Image of someone with a hearing aid doing a brain game to improve cognitive ability.

Because of its simplicity, soduku is a globally popular puzzle game. All you require to play is some grids, a pencil, and some numbers. For many, a Sudoku puzzle book is a pleasant way to pass the time. It’s an additional bonus that it’s good for your brain.

It’s becoming popular to use “brain workouts” to deal with cognitive decline. But Sudoku isn’t the only method of delaying cognitive recession. Recent research has revealed that hearing aids might be able to provide your brain with a little boost in mental activation, slowing the advancement of cognitive decline.

Mental Decline, What is it?

Your brain is a “use it or lose it” organ. Without stimulus, neural pathways will fizzle out. That’s why Sudoku tends to keep you mentally active: it forces your brain to think, to creatively forge and reinforce a plethora of neural pathways.

While a certain amount of mental decline is a normal process associated with aging, there are some variables that can hasten or exacerbate that decline. A particularly formidable hazard for your mental health, as an example, is hearing loss. Two things happen that powerfully impact your brain when your hearing starts to go:

  • You can’t hear as well: When you have less sound input, your auditory cortex (the region of your brain responsible for everything related to hearing) receives diminished stimulation. Your brain could end up changing in a way that makes it prioritize other senses like sight. Increased risk of cognitive decline has been associated with these changes.
  • You go out less: Neglected hearing loss can cause some people to self-isolate in an unhealthy way. Staying in to escape conversations might seem easier than going out and feeling self-conscious (particularly as your neglected hearing loss worsens). But this is a bad idea as it can rob your brain of that needed stimulation.

These two things, when put together, can cause your brain to change in significant ways. Loss of memory, trouble concentrating, and ultimately an increased risk of dementia have been connected to this sort of cognitive decline.

Can Hearing Aids Reverse Declines?

So, this mental decline occurs because your hearing loss is going untreated. And it’s pretty obvious what needs to be done to reverse these declines: get your hearing loss treated. Usually, this means new hearing aids.

The amount that hearing aids can slow cognitive decline is both unexpected and well-substantiated. Approximately 100 people with hearing loss from the age of 62 to age 82 were surveyed by the University of Melbourne. Over 97% of those adults who used their hearing aids for at least 18 months reported a stabilization or even reversal of that cognitive decline.

That’s an almost universal improvement, simply from wearing hearing aids. 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 remains more engaged when you are social. It’s easier (and more enjoyable) to hang with your friends when you can follow the conversation!
  • Discovering ways to activate your auditory cortex would be beneficial because stimulation is the key to mental health. As long as you keep hearing (assisted by hearing aids), this vital region of your brain will remain stimulated, active, and healthy.

Sudoko is Still a Good Idea

The University of Melbourne study isn’t an outlier. If you have neglected hearing loss, many studies have revealed that wearing hearing aids can help decrease cognitive decline. But many individuals have hearing loss and simply aren’t aware of it. You may not even recognize the early signs. So if you’re feeling forgetful, strained, or even a bit spacier than normal, it may be worth talking with your hearing specialist.

You should still keep doing Sudoko and other brain games. They keep your brain refreshed and flexible and give you better general cognitive function. Working your brain out and keeping mentally fit can be assisted by both hearing aids and brain games.

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The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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