Hearing loss is typically accepted as just another part of the aging process: we start to hear things less clearly as we age. Perhaps we begin to turn up the volume on the TV, or keep asking our grandkids to repeat themselves when they’re talking to us, or perhaps…we begin to…where was I going with this…oh ya. Perhaps we start to suffer memory loss.
Memory loss is also commonly considered a normal part of getting older because dementia and Alzheimer’s are a lot more widespread in the senior citizen population than the general population at large. But what if the two were somehow connected? And what if you could deal with your hearing loss while taking care of your mental health and protecting your memories?
Cognitive Decline And Hearing Loss
With almost 30 million people in the United States who have hearing loss, cognitive decline and dementia, for the majority of them, isn’t connected to hearing loss. However, the connection is very clear if you look in the right places: if you have hearing loss, there is significant risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, according to numerous studies – even at relatively low levels of hearing loss.
Mental health issues like depression and anxiety are also quite prevalent in people who suffer from hearing loss. Your ability to socialize can be seriously impacted by hearing loss, cognitive decline, and other mental health problems and that’s the real key here.
Why Does Hearing Loss Impact Cognitive Decline?
While cognitive decline and mental health problems haven’t been definitively proven to be linked to hearing loss, there is clearly some connection and several clues that experts are looking at. There are two main scenarios they have pinpointed that they think contribute to problems: your brain working extra hard have to and social isolation.
research has shown that loneliness results in depression and anxiety. And people are not as likely to socialize when they suffer from hearing loss. Many people find that it’s too hard to have conversations or can’t hear well enough to enjoy activities like going to the movies. People who find themselves in this situation often start to isolate themselves which can bring about mental health issues.
researchers have also found that the brain frequently has to work overtime because the ears are not functioning like they should. When this happens, other areas of the brain, including the one responsible for memory, are tapped for hearing and understanding sound. This causes cognitive decline to occur much faster than it normally would.
How to Stop Cognitive Decline by Wearing Hearing Aids
Hearing aids are our first defense against cognitive decline, mental health issues, and dementia. Research shows that people increased their cognitive functions and were at a decreased chances for developing dementia when they used hearing aids to combat their hearing loss.
As a matter of fact, if more people wore their hearing aids, we might see reduced cases of mental health issues and cognitive decline. Between 15% and 30% of people who need hearing aids even use them, which makes up between 4.5 million and 9 million people. The World Health Organization reports that there are close to 50 million people who suffer from some form of dementia. If hearing aids can decrease that figure by even just a couple of million people, the quality of life for lots of individuals and families will develop exponentially.