Hearing loss is generally accepted as simply a normal part of getting older: as we get older, we begin to hear things a little less clearly. Maybe we need to ask people to speak up or repeat themselves when they talk. Maybe the volume on our TV keeps getting louder. We might even notice that we’re becoming forgetful.
Memory loss is also normally considered a normal part of aging as dementia and Alzheimer’s are a lot more widespread in the senior citizen population than in the general population at large. But is it possible that there’s a connection between the two? And is it possible to maintain your mental health and manage hearing loss at the same time?
The link between cognitive decline and hearing loss
Most individuals don’t connect hearing loss with cognitive decline and dementia. But if you look in the appropriate places, you will see a clear connection: studies show that there is a substantial risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia-like disorders if you also have hearing loss – even at fairly low levels of hearing impairment.
Mental health problems such as anxiety and depression are also fairly prevalent in people who suffer from hearing loss. Your ability to socialize is impacted by cognitive decline, mental health problems, and hearing loss which is the common thread.
Why is cognitive decline impacted by hearing loss?
There is a link between hearing loss and cognitive decline, and though there’s no concrete proof that there is a direct cause and effect relationship, experts are looking at some persuasive clues. They have identified two main scenarios that they believe lead to problems: your brain working extra hard to hear and social solitude.
Studies have revealed that anxiety and depression are frequently the result of isolation. And when people suffer from hearing loss, they’re not as likely to socialize with others. Many people find it hard to go out to the movies or dinner because they can’t hear very well. These actions lead down a path of isolation, which can lead to mental health issues.
Additionally, researchers have discovered that the brain frequently has to work overtime to make up for the fact that the ears don’t hear as well as they should. The part of the brain that’s responsible for understanding sounds, like voices in a conversation, needs more help from other parts of the brain – namely, the part of the brain that stores memories. Cognitive decline will then progress faster than normal as the overworked brain struggles to keep up.
How to fight mental decline with hearing aids
The first line of defense against mental health issues and cognitive decline is hearing aids. Research shows that people improved their cognitive functions and were at a decreased risk of developing dementia when they used hearing aids to deal with their hearing loss.
If more people wore their hearing aids, we might see fewer cases of mental health issues and cognitive decline. Of all the individuals who require hearing aids, only between 15% and 30% actually use them, that’s between 5 and 9 million people. The World Health Organization estimates that there are almost 50 million people who suffer from some kind of dementia. For many people and families, the quality of life will be improved if hearing aids can decrease that number by even a couple million people.
Are you ready to improve your hearing and protect your memory at the same time? Get in touch with us today and make an appointment for a consultation to learn whether hearing aids are right for you and to get on the path to better mental health.