Hearing loss is commonly accepted as just another 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. Maybe the volume on our TV keeps getting louder. We may even notice that we’re becoming forgetful.
Loss of memory is also frequently regarded as a standard part of aging because the senior population is more susceptible to Alzheimer’s and dementia than the general population. But what if the two were somehow connected? And could it be possible to safeguard your mental health and treat hearing loss at the same time?
The link between cognitive decline and hearing loss
Mental decline and dementia are not typically associated with hearing loss. Nevertheless, the connection is quite clear if you look in the right places: studies show that there is a considerable risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia-like disorders if you also suffer from hearing loss – even at relatively low levels of hearing impairment.
Mental health issues like anxiety and depression are also fairly prevalent in individuals who have hearing loss. The key here is that hearing loss, mental health problems, and cognitive decline all influence our ability to socialize.
Why is cognitive decline impacted by hearing loss?
There is a link between hearing loss and cognitive decline, and though there’s no solid proof that there is a direct cause and effect association, experts are investigating some persuasive clues. They believe two main situations are responsible: the inability to interact socially and your brain working overtime.
Studies have shown that depression and anxiety are often the result of loneliness. And people are not as likely to socialize with others when they cope with hearing loss. Many people who suffered from hearing loss find it’s too hard to carry on conversations or can’t hear well enough to enjoy things like going to the movies. These actions lead down a path of isolation, which can result in mental health issues.
In addition, researchers have discovered that the brain often has to work harder to make up for the fact that the ears can’t hear clearly. Eventually, the part of the brain in charge of other tasks, like remembering, has to use some of its resources to help the region of the brain responsible for hearing. Cognitive decline will then progress faster than normal as the overtaxed brain strains to keep up.
How to stop cognitive decline with hearing aids
Hearing aids are our first line of defense against cognitive decline, mental health issues, and dementia. Research has revealed that people improved their cognitive functions and were at a decreased 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 cases 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. The World Health Organization estimates that there are nearly 50 million people who cope with some kind of dementia. If hearing aids can decrease that number by even just a couple of million people, the quality of life for many individuals and families will improve exponentially.
Are you ready to improve your hearing and protect your memory at the same time? Get on the path to better hearing and improved mental health by reaching out to us for an appointment.