Hearing loss is considered a normal part of growing older: we begin to hear things less clearly as we get older. Perhaps we need to keep asking the grandkids to speak up when they talk, or we have to turn the volume up on the TV, or perhaps…we start…what was I going to say…oh ya. Maybe we begin to suffer memory loss.
The general population has a much lower rate of dementia and Alzheimer’s than the older population. That’s why memory loss is considered a normal part of aging. But what if there was a connection between the two? And, better still, what if there were a way for you to treat hearing loss and also preserve your memories and mental health?
Hearing Loss And Mental Decline
With almost 30 million individuals in the United States who have hearing loss, cognitive decline and dementia, for most of them, isn’t associated with hearing loss. However, the link is very clear if you look in the right places: research has shown that there is a substantial risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia-like disorders if you also suffer from hearing loss – even if you have fairly mild loss of hearing.
Mental health problems including anxiety and depression are also quite prevalent in people who have 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 is Cognitive Decline Connected to Hearing Loss?
While cognitive decline and mental health problems haven’t been definitively proven to be connected to hearing loss, experts are looking at a number of clues that point us in that direction. They have identified two main scenarios which appear to lead to problems: inability to socialize and your brain working overtime.
Many studies show that loneliness leads to anxiety and depression. And people are less likely to socialize when they are dealing with hearing loss. Many people can’t enjoy events like attending a movie because they find it too hard to hear the dialog. These situations lead down a path of isolation, which can lead to mental health problems.
researchers have also found that the brain frequently has to work extra hard to compensate for the fact that the ears don’t hear as well as they should. The area of the brain that’s responsible for comprehending sounds, such as voices in a conversation, calls for more help from other portion of the brain – specifically, the area of the brain that keeps our memories intact. This causes cognitive decline to occur a lot quicker than it normally would.
How to Avoid Cognitive Decline by Wearing Hearing Aids
Hearing aids improve our hearing letting the brain to use it’s resources in a normal manner which is our best defense for dealing with cognitive decline and dementia. Research has shown that people improved their cognitive functions and were at a decreased risk for developing dementia when they managed their hearing loss with hearing aids.
Actually, we would probably see fewer instances of dementia and cognitive decline if more people wore hearing aids. Between 15% and 30% of people who require hearing aids even use them, that’s 4.5 to 9 million people. The World Health Organization reports that there are nearly 50 million people who deal with some kind of dementia. The quality of life will be drastically improved for people and families if hearing aids can lessen that number by just a couple million people.