Hearing loss is usually accepted as just a normal part of the aging process: as we get older, we start to hear things a little less clearly. Perhaps 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.
Memory loss is also often regarded as a natural part of aging as dementia and Alzheimer’s are a lot more widespread in the senior citizen population than in the general population at large. But what if the two were in some way connected? And is it possible to safeguard your mental health and treat hearing loss at the same time?
Hearing loss and mental decline
Mental decline and dementia are not commonly connected to hearing loss. Nevertheless, the link is very clear if you look in the right places: if you have hearing loss, even at low levels, studies have shown there’s a substantial risk of developing dementia or cognitive decline.
Individuals who cope with hearing loss also frequently have mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. Your ability to socialize is impacted by cognitive decline, mental health problems, and hearing loss which is the common thread.
Why does hearing loss affect cognitive decline?
There is a link between hearing loss and mental decline, and though there’s no solid proof that there is a direct cause and effect relationship, experts are exploring some persuasive clues. They have identified two main situations that they believe lead to issues: the inability to interact socially and your brain working overtime.
Studies have shown that anxiety and depression are frequently the result of loneliness. And people aren’t as likely to socialize with other people when they have hearing loss. Many people find it hard to go out to the movies or dinner because they can’t hear very well. These actions lead to isolation, which can result in mental health problems.
Studies have also shown that when somebody has hearing loss, the brain has to work overtime to make up for the diminished stimulation. The part of the brain that processes sounds, like 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 a lot faster than if the brain was able to process sounds normally.
How to stop mental decline with hearing aids
Hearing aids are our first weapon against mental decline, mental health problems, and dementia. Studies show that people improved their cognitive functions and were at a reduced risk of developing dementia when they used hearing aids to deal with their hearing loss.
If more people wore their hearing aids, we might 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 almost 50 million people who cope with some kind of dementia. If hearing aids can lower that number by even just a couple of million people, the quality of life for many individuals and families will be exponentially improved.
Are you ready to start 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 a consultation.