Hearing loss is thought of as a normal part of getting older: as we get older, we start to hear things a little less distinctly. Maybe we need to keep asking the grandkids to repeat themselves when they talk, or we have to start turning up the volume on the TV, or perhaps…we begin to…where was I going with this…oh yes. Perhaps we begin to lose our memory.
Loss of memory is also usually thought to be a normal part of aging because dementia and Alzheimer’s are far more widespread in the senior citizen population than the general population. But is it possible that the two are connected somehow? And what if you could treat your hearing loss while caring for your mental health and preserving your memories?
Hearing Loss And Mental Decline
With almost 30 million people in the United States suffering from hearing loss, mental decline and dementia, for the majority of them, isn’t associated with hearing loss. However, the connection is very clear if you look in the right direction: if you have hearing loss, there is serious risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, according to many studies – even if you have fairly mild hearing loss.
Mental health problems including depression and anxiety are also pretty prevalent in people who have hearing loss. The key here is that hearing loss, mental health issues, and cognitive decline all have an impact on our ability to socialize.
Why is Cognitive Decline Related to Hearing Loss?
While there is no proven evidence or definitive evidence that hearing loss results in cognitive decline and mental health issues, there is definitely some connection and several clues that experts are looking into. They have pinpointed two main situations which seem to result in issues: your brain working harder than it would normally 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 activities like the movie theater. These actions lead to a path of isolation, which can lead to mental health issues.
Additionally, researchers have discovered that the brain often has to work extra hard to make up for the fact that the ears don’t hear as well as they should. When this occurs, other areas of the brain, like the one used for memory, are tapped for hearing and comprehending sound. This causes cognitive decline to take place much faster than it normally would.
How to Stop Cognitive Decline With Hearing Aids
Hearing aids improve our ability to hear letting the brain to use it’s resources in a normal way which is our best defense against cognitive decline and dementia. Research has shown that patients increased their cognitive functions and had a reduced rate of dementia when they used hearing aids to deal with their hearing loss.
Actually, if more people wore their hearing aids, we may see less cases of mental health issues and cognitive decline. Between 15% and 30% of people who need hearing aids actually use them, that’s 4.5 to 9 million people. It’s estimated by the World Health Organization that there are nearly 50 million people who have some form of dementia. If hearing aids can lower that figure by even just a couple of million people, the quality of life for many individuals and families will improve exponentially.