Hearing loss is thought of as a normal part of the aging process: we begin to hear things less intelligibly as we age. Maybe we begin to turn the volume up on the TV, or keep asking our grandkids to repeat themselves when they’re talking to us, or perhaps…we start…where was I going with this…oh yes. Maybe we begin to forget things.
Loss of memory is also often thought of as a normal part of getting older because dementia and Alzheimer’s are a lot more widespread in the older population than the general population. But what if there was a connection between the two? And what if you could manage your hearing loss while caring for your mental health and preserving your memories?
Cognitive Decline And Hearing Loss
With about 30 million individuals in the United States who have hearing loss, the majority of them do not associate hearing loss with mental decline and dementia. However, the connection is very clear if you look in the right direction: if you suffer from hearing loss, there is considerable risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, according to numerous studies – even at fairly low levels of hearing impairment.
Mental health problems including anxiety and depression are also quite prevalent in people who have hearing loss. The main point is that hearing loss, mental health concerns, and cognitive decline all have an impact on our ability to socialize.
Why is Cognitive Decline Related to Hearing Loss?
While there is no concrete evidence or definitive evidence that hearing loss causes cognitive decline and mental health problems, there is definitely some link and several clues that experts are looking at. They have identified two main situations which appear to result in problems: your brain working extra hard have to and social isolation.
Many studies show that loneliness goes hand in hand with anxiety and depression. And people are not as likely to socialize when they suffer from hearing loss. Many people find it’s too hard to have conversations or can’t hear well enough to enjoy things like going to the movies. People who are in this situation often begin to isolate themselves which can cause mental health concerns.
researchers have also discovered that the brain often has to work overtime because the ears are not working like they should. When this happens, other regions of the brain, like the one used for memory, are diverted for hearing and understanding sound. This overtaxes the brain and leads to the onset of cognitive decline much quicker than if the brain could process sounds correctly.
How to Avoid Cognitive Decline With Hearing Aids
Hearing aids are our first defense against cognitive decline, mental health concerns, and dementia. Studies show that people improved their cognitive functions and had a decreased rate of dementia when they used hearing aids to combat their hearing loss.
Actually, we would probably see fewer instances of dementia and cognitive decline if more people wore hearing aids. Between 15% and 30% of individuals who require hearing aids actually use them, which makes up between 4.5 million and 9 million people. It’s estimated by the World Health Organization that there are close to 50 million people who deal with some kind of dementia. If hearing aids can lessen that number by even just a couple of million people, the quality of life for lots of people and families will develop exponentially.