Hearing loss is commonly accepted as just a normal part of the aging process: as we age, we begin to hear things a little less clearly. Perhaps we need to ask people to speak up or repeat themselves when they talk. Perhaps the volume on our TV keeps going up. We might even notice that we’re becoming forgetful.
Loss of memory is also often seen as a standard part of aging because the senior population is more prone to Alzheimer’s and dementia than the general population. But is it possible that there’s a link between the two? And is it possible to maintain your mental health and address hearing loss at the same time?
Hearing loss and cognitive decline
Cognitive decline and dementia aren’t usually associated with hearing loss. But if you look in the appropriate places, you will find a clear link: studies show that there is a significant risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia-like disorders if you also have hearing loss – even at relatively low levels of hearing impairment.
Individuals who cope with hearing loss also often have mental health issues like anxiety and depression. Your ability to socialize is affected by cognitive decline, mental health problems, and hearing loss which is the common thread.
Why does hearing loss impact cognitive decline?
While there is no solid finding or definitive proof that hearing loss causes cognitive decline and mental health problems, there is some connection and several clues that experts are investigating. They have pinpointed two main situations that they think result in issues: the inability to interact socially and your brain working overtime.
Many studies show that loneliness brings about depression and anxiety. And people are not as likely to socialize with others when they have hearing loss. Many people find it hard to go out to the movies or dinner because they can’t hear very well. These actions lead to isolation, which can bring about mental health issues.
Additionally, researchers have found that the brain often has to work harder to make up for the fact that the ears don’t hear as well as they should. The region of the brain that processes sounds, like voices in a conversation, requires more help from other parts of the brain – namely, the part of the brain that keeps our memories intact. This overworks the brain and causes mental decline to set in a lot faster than if the brain could process sounds normally.
Using hearing aids to prevent cognitive decline
Hearing aids are our first weapon against mental decline, mental health problems, and dementia. Research shows that patients improved their cognitive functions and were at a lower risk of developing dementia when they used hearing aids to combat their hearing loss.
If more people wore their hearing aids, we may see less instances of mental health problems and cognitive decline. Of all the people who need hearing aids, only between 15% and 30% actually use them, that’s between 5 and 9 million people. Almost 50 million people cope with dementia as reported by the World Health Organization estimates. For many individuals and families, the quality of life will be enhanced if hearing aids can reduce that number by even a couple million people.
Are you ready to begin hearing better – and remembering things without any issue? Contact us today and schedule a consultation to learn whether hearing aids are right for you and to get on the path to better mental health.