If you begin talking about dementia at your next family get-together, you will most likely put a dark cloud over the entire event.
The topic of dementia can be really frightening and most individuals aren’t going to go out of their way to talk about it. Dementia, which is a degenerative cognitive condition, makes you lose a grip on reality, experience memory loss, and brings about an over-all loss of mental faculties. It’s not something anyone looks forward to.
So preventing or at least delaying dementia is important for many individuals. There are several clear connections, as it turns out, between dementia and neglected hearing loss.>
That might seem a bit… surprising to you. After all, what does your brain have to do with your ears (lots, it turns out)? Why are the risks of dementia increased with hearing loss?>
What takes place when your hearing impairment is neglected?
Maybe you’ve noticed your hearing loss already, but you’re not too concerned about it. You can simply turn up the volume, right? Maybe, when you watch your favorite show, you’ll just turn on the captions.
Or maybe your hearing loss has gone unobserved so far. Perhaps the signs are still hard to detect. In either case, hearing loss and mental decline have a strong correlation. That could have something to do with what occurs when you have neglected hearing loss.
- Conversation becomes more difficult to understand. You could start to keep yourself secluded from others as a result of this. You might become removed from loved ones and friends. You speak to others less. This sort of social separation is, well, not good for your brain. It’s not good for your social life either. Additionally, many people who cope with hearing loss-related social isolation don’t even recognize it’s happening, and they most likely won’t connect their solitude to their hearing.
- Your brain will begin to work much harder. Your ears will get less audio information when you have untreated hearing loss. Because of this, your brain will attempt to fill in the gaps. This will really exhaust your brain. Your brain will then have to get additional energy from your memory and thought centers (at least that’s the present theory). The thinking is that after a while this contributes to dementia (or, at least, helps it along). Your brain working so hard can also cause all manner of other symptoms, like mental fatigue and tiredness.
So your hearing loss is not quite as innocuous as you may have believed.
Hearing loss is one of the primary indicators of dementia
Let’s say you just have mild hearing loss. Whispers might get lost, but you can hear everything else so…no big deal right? Well, even with that, your chance of developing dementia is doubled.
So one of the preliminary indications of dementia can be even minor hearing loss.
So… How should we understand this?
We’re looking at risk in this situation which is relevant to note. Hearing loss isn’t a guarantee of cognitive decline or even an early symptom of dementia. It does mean that later in life you will have a higher risk of developing cognitive decline. But that can actually be good news.
Your risk of cognitive decline is decreased by successfully dealing with your hearing loss. So how can you manage your hearing loss? There are several ways:
- Set up an appointment with us to identify your current hearing loss.
- Using a hearing aid can help minimize the impact of hearing loss. So, can dementia be prevented by using hearing aids? That’s tough to say, but hearing aids can enhance brain function. This is the reason why: You’ll be more socially active and your brain won’t need to work so hard to carry on conversations. Research indicates that treating hearing loss can help minimize your risk of developing dementia in the future. That isn’t the same as stopping dementia, but it’s a good thing nonetheless.
- You can take a few measures to safeguard your hearing from further harm if you detect your hearing loss early enough. As an example, you could stay away from noisy events (like concerts or sports games) or wear hearing protection when you’re near anything noisy (for example, if you work with heavy machinery).
Lowering your chance of dementia – other methods
Of course, there are other things you can do to lower your chance of dementia, too. This might include:
- Make sure you get enough sleep every night. Some studies link less than four hours of sleep every night to a higher risk of dementia.
- Don’t smoke. Seriously. It just makes everything worse, including your chance of experiencing dementia (this list also includes drinking too much alcohol).
- Get some exercise.
- Eating a healthy diet, specifically one that helps you keep your blood pressure from going too high. Sometimes, medication can help here, some people just have naturally higher blood pressure; those people could need medication sooner rather than later.
Needless to say, scientists are still studying the connection between dementia, hearing loss, lifestyle, and more. There are so many causes that make this disease so complex. But any way you can reduce your risk is good.
Being able to hear is its own advantage
So, over time, hearing better will reduce your general risk of cognitive decline. But it’s not only your future golden years you’ll be improving, it’s now. Imagine, no more solitary trips to the store, no more lost conversations, no more misunderstandings.
Missing out on the important things in life is no fun. And taking steps to manage your hearing loss, maybe by using hearing aids, can be really helpful.
So call us today for an appointment.