Sudoku is one of the most popular puzzle games in the world, in large part because of its simplicity. All you require to play is some grids, a pencil, and some numbers. For many, a Sudoku puzzle book is a relaxing way to pass the time. It’s an additional bonus that it strengthens your brain.
“Brain workouts” have become a popular way of addressing cognitive decline. But Sudoku isn’t the only method of delaying cognitive recession. Recent studies have revealed that hearing aids may be able to provide your brain with a little boost in mental activation, slowing down the advancement of cognitive decline.
What is Mental Decline?
Your brain is a “use it or lose it” organ. Neural pathways will fizzle out without appropriate stimulation. Your brain has to forge and strengthen neural pathways, that’s the reason why Sudoku works, it keeps you mentally active.
While a certain amount of mental decline is a natural process associated with aging, there are some things that can accelerate or worsen that decline. Hearing loss, for example, can introduce a really formidable hazard for your mental health. When your hearing starts to diminish, two things happen that really affect your brain:
- You hear less: There is less sound going in to stimulate your auditory cortex (the hearing center of the brain). This can cause alterations to your brain (in some cases, for instance, your brain starts to prioritize visual stimuli; but that isn’t true for everybody). These changes have been connected to an increased danger of mental decline.
- You don’t go out as much: Self isolation is a very detrimental behavior, but that’s exactly what some individuals do when they suffer from hearing loss. As your hearing loss increases, it may just seem simpler to stay inside to avoid conversation. But this is a bad idea as it can deprive your brain of that needed stimulation.
Put together, these two things can result in a significant change in your brain. Memory loss, problems concentrating, and eventually an increased risk of dementia have been linked to this type of mental decline.
Is Cognitive Decline Reversable With Hearing Aids?
So, this mental decline takes place because your hearing loss is being neglected. This means that the number one way to reverse those declines is pretty obvious: address your hearing impairment! For the majority of people with hearing loss, that means a shiny new pair of properly-calibrated hearing aids.
The degree to which hearing aids can slow cognitive decline is both surprising and well-substantiated. Around 100 people with hearing loss from the age of 62 to age 82 were interviewed by the University of Melbourne. Among those adults who wore their hearing aids for at least 18 months, over 97% said that their cognitive decline either stopped or reversed.
Just using hearing aids brought about a nearly universal improvement. We can learn a couple of things from this:
- One of the main functions of hearing aids is to keep you in your social circle. And your brain stays more involved when you are social. It’s easier (and more enjoyable) to hang with your friends when you can follow the conversation!
- Stimulation is integral to your mental health, so that means anything that helps your auditory cortex stay active when it otherwise wouldn’t be, is most likely advantageous. This area of your brain will continue to be healthy and vital as long as you keep hearing ( with assistance from hearing aids).
Doesn’t Mean Sudoku is a Bad Idea
This new research from the University of Melbourne isn’t the only one of it’s kind. If you have neglected hearing loss, many studies have demonstrated that using hearing aids can help decrease cognitive decline. The issue is that not everyone knows that they have hearing loss. The symptoms can sneak up on you. So if you’re feeling strained, forgetful, or even a bit spacier than normal, it might be worth talking with your hearing specialist.
That hearing aids are so effective doesn’t necessarily mean you should give up on your Sudoku or other brain games. They keep your brain fresh and pliable and give you better overall cognitive function. Working your brain out and staying cognitively fit can be helped by both hearing aids and brain games.