Sudoku is a global, popular puzzle game, mainly because of its simplicity. A pencil, some numbers, and a few grids are all that’s required. For many, a Sudoku puzzle book is a pleasant way to pass the hours. That it’s a workout for your brain is an additional perk.
“Brain workouts” are becoming a popular means of fending off cognitive decline. But Sudoku isn’t the only way to delay cognitive recession. Recent studies have shown that hearing aids may be capable of providing your brain with a little boost in mental stimulation, slowing the advancement of cognitive decline.
Cognitive Decline, What is it?
Your brain has a truly use-it-or-lose-it temperament. Without stimulation, neural connections will fizzle out. Your brain needs to create and strengthen neural pathways, that’s the reason why Sudoku works, it keeps you mentally active.
While some mental decline is a normal part of aging, there are some factors that can accelerate or exacerbate that decline. An especially potent danger for your mental health, for instance, is hearing loss. Two things occur that really affect your brain when your hearing starts to go:
- You can’t hear as well: There’s not as much sound going in to stimulate your auditory cortex (the hearing focus of the brain). Your brain might end up changing in a way that causes it to prioritize other senses like sight. These changes have been connected to an increased risk of cognitive decline.
- You go out less: Self isolation is a very unhealthy behavior, but that’s exactly what some individuals do when they suffer from hearing loss. Staying in to steer clear of conversations may seem easier than going out and feeling self-conscious (specifically as your untreated hearing loss worsens). This can rob your brain of even more input.
Together, these two things can cause a major change in your brain. Memory loss, problems concentrating, and eventually a higher danger of dementia have been related to this kind of cognitive decline.
Will Hearing Aids Reverse Declines?
So if your hearing loss is ignored, this type of mental decline can be the outcome. And it’s fairly obvious what you need to do to reverse these declines: get your hearing loss treated. In most cases, this means new hearing aids.
The amount that hearing aids can slow cognitive decline is both surprising and well-corroborated. Researchers at the University of Melbourne surveyed about 100 adults between the ages of 62-82, all of whom had some kind of hearing loss. Among those adults who used their hearing aids for at least 18 months, over 97% said that their cognitive decline either stopped or reversed.
Just wearing hearing aids brought about a nearly universal improvement. We can learn a couple of things from this:
- One of the primary functions of hearing aids is to help you stay social. And your brain stays more engaged when you stay social. When you can understand conversations it’s much more enjoyable to socialize with your friends.
- Discovering ways to activate your auditory cortex would be helpful because stimulation is the key to mental well being. This area of your brain will remain vital and healthy as long as you continue to hear ( with help from hearing aids).
Doesn’t Mean Sudoku is a Bad Idea
This new research from the University of Melbourne isn’t an outlier. Study after study seems to back the notion that hearing aids can help slow down cognitive decline, especially when that decline would be hastened by untreated hearing loss. But many individuals have hearing loss and simply don’t recognize it. The symptoms can take you by surprise. So if you’re feeling forgetful, strained, or even a little spacier than normal, it might be worth talking with us.
You should still continue doing Sudoko and other brain games. They keep your brain fresh and flexible and give you stronger general cognitive function. Exercising and staying cognitively fit can be helped by both hearing aids and brain games.