Hearing loss is usually accepted as just a normal part of getting older: as we get older, we begin to hear things a little less clearly. Maybe we begin to turn up the volume on the TV or keep asking our grandchildren to speak up when they’re talking to us, or perhaps we start to forget things?
Loss of memory is also typically considered a normal part of aging as dementia and Alzheimer’s are a lot more widespread in the senior citizen population than in the younger population at large. But is it possible that there’s a connection between the two? And could it be possible to safeguard your mental health and address hearing loss at the same time?
Hearing loss and cognitive decline
Most people do not connect hearing loss with cognitive decline and dementia. However, the link is very clear if you look in the appropriate places: if you have hearing loss, even at low levels, studies have shown there’s a considerable risk of developing dementia or cognitive decline.
Mental health issues including anxiety and depression are also fairly prevalent in individuals who have hearing loss. The key point here is that hearing loss, mental health problems, and cognitive decline all impact our ability to socialize.
Why does hearing loss affect cognitive decline?
While there is no solid finding or conclusive proof that hearing loss causes cognitive decline and mental health issues, there is some connection and numerous clues that experts are looking at. They have identified two main situations that they think lead to issues: the inability to socialize and your brain working overtime.
Studies have shown that depression and anxiety are often the result of isolation. And when people have hearing loss, they’re not as likely to socialize with others. Many individuals find it hard to go out to the movies or dinner because they can’t hear very well. Mental health problems can be the outcome of this path of solitude.
In addition, researchers have found that the brain frequently has to work overtime 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 holding memories, has to use some of its resources to help the region of the brain responsible for hearing. This overworks the brain and causes mental decline to set in a lot faster than if the brain was able to process sounds normally.
Using hearing aids to stop mental decline
The first line of defense against mental health issues and mental decline is hearing aids. Studies show 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 instances of mental health issues and cognitive decline. Between 15% and 30% of people who need hearing aids actually use them, which accounts for between 4.5 million 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 decrease that number by even a couple million people.
Are you ready to begin hearing better – and remembering things without any issue? Get on the path to better hearing and improved mental health by reaching out to us for an appointment.