As we get older we begin to have difficulty hearing clearly and we typically just accept it as a normal part of growing older. Perhaps we start turning up the volume on the TV or keep asking our grandkids to speak up when they’re talking to us, or maybe we begin to forget things?
Loss of memory is also frequently seen as a standard part of aging because the senior population is more susceptible to Alzheimer’s and dementia than the general population. But is it possible that there’s a link between the two? And, better yet, what if there was a way to treat hearing loss and also maintain your memories and mental health?
The connection between mental decline and hearing loss
Cognitive decline and dementia aren’t commonly connected to hearing loss. However, the link is very clear if you look in the appropriate places: if you’re experiencing hearing loss, even at low levels, studies have shown there’s a significant risk of developing dementia or cognitive decline.
Mental health problems including anxiety and depression are also fairly prevalent in people who have hearing loss. The key here is that hearing loss, mental health problems, and cognitive decline all impact our ability to socialize.
Why is cognitive decline affected by hearing loss?
While there isn’t any solid finding or definitive proof that hearing loss causes cognitive decline and mental health issues, there is some association and numerous clues that experts are looking at. They have identified two main situations that they think result in problems: your brain working extra hard to hear and social isolation.
Many studies show that isolation leads to depression and anxiety. And when people have hearing loss, they’re less likely to interact socially with others. Many people who suffered from hearing loss find it’s too hard to participate in conversations or can’t hear well enough to enjoy things like going to the movies. Mental health problems can be the outcome of this path of isolation.
Studies have also revealed that when somebody has hearing loss, the brain has to work extra hard to compensate for the reduced stimulation. Eventually, the part of the brain responsible for other tasks, like remembering, has to use some of its resources to help the part of the brain responsible for hearing. Mental decline will then progress faster than normal as the overworked brain struggles to keep up.
Using hearing aids to stop mental decline
The weapon against mental health problems and mental decline is hearing aids. When patients use hearing aids to address hearing loss, studies have shown that they were at a decreased risk of dementia and had improved cognitive function.
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 wear them, that’s between 5 and 9 million people. Almost 50 million individuals cope with dementia according to 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 trouble? Contact us today and schedule a consultation to find out if hearing aids are right for you and start moving toward better mental health.