Hearing loss is usually accepted as just another part of the aging process: as we get older, we start to hear things a little less clearly. Maybe we need to ask people to speak up or repeat themselves when they talk. Perhaps the volume on our TV keeps going up. We may even notice that we’re becoming forgetful.
Loss of memory is also normally regarded as a normal part of aging as dementia and Alzheimer’s are far more common in the senior citizen population than in the younger population at large. But is it possible that there’s a link between the two? And, even better, what if there was a way to address hearing loss and also maintain your memories and mental health?
Hearing loss and mental decline
Most individuals do not connect hearing loss with mental decline and dementia. But if you look in the right places, you will find a clear link: if you have hearing loss, even at low levels, studies have shown there’s a considerable risk of developing dementia or cognitive decline.
People who cope with hearing loss also often have mental health problems like anxiety and depression. The key here is that hearing loss, mental health issues, and cognitive decline all impact our ability to socialize.
Why does hearing loss affect cognitive decline?
While there isn’t any solid finding or conclusive proof that hearing loss causes cognitive decline and mental health problems, there is some link and several clues that experts are looking at. They have pinpointed two main situations that they think lead to issues: the inability to interact socially and your brain working overtime.
Studies have shown that anxiety and depression are often the result of isolation. And when people have hearing loss, they’re not as likely to interact socially with others. Many people with hearing loss find it’s too hard to carry on conversations or can’t hear well enough to enjoy things like the movie theater. 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 don’t hear as well as they should. The part of the brain that processes sounds, such as voices in a conversation, needs more help from other parts of the brain – namely, the part of the brain that keeps our memories intact. This overworks the brain and causes cognitive decline to set in much faster than if the brain could process sounds normally.
How to stop cognitive decline with hearing aids
The weapon against mental health problems and mental decline is hearing aids. When patients use hearing aids to manage hearing loss, studies have shown that they were at a decreased risk of dementia and had improved cognitive function.
If more people used their hearing aids, we might see fewer cases of mental health issues 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? Get on the path to better hearing and improved mental health by calling us for a consultation.