Hearing loss is typically accepted as simply another part of getting older: as we get older, we begin 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 getting louder. We may even notice that we’re becoming forgetful.
Loss of memory is also commonly seen as a standard part of aging because the senior population is more prone to Alzheimer’s and dementia than the younger population. But what if the two were in some way connected? And, even better, what if there was a way to treat hearing loss and also preserve your memories and mental health?
Hearing loss and mental decline
Mental decline and dementia are not usually connected to hearing loss. Nevertheless, the connection is very clear if you look in the right places: studies reveal that there is a significant risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia-like conditions if you also suffer from hearing loss – even at relatively low levels of hearing impairment.
People who have hearing loss also frequently deal with mental health issues like anxiety and depression. Your ability to socialize is affected by cognitive decline, mental health problems, and hearing loss which is the common thread.
Why is cognitive decline impacted by hearing loss?
While there is no concrete finding or conclusive proof that hearing loss causes cognitive decline and mental health problems, there is some association and several clues that experts are looking at. They think two main situations are responsible: your brain working harder to hear and social solitude.
Many studies show that solitude leads to depression and anxiety. And people are not as likely to socialize with other people when they cope with hearing loss. Many people with hearing loss find it’s too difficult to carry on conversations or can’t hear well enough to enjoy things like the movie theater. Mental health issues can be the result of this path of isolation.
Additionally, researchers have found that the brain frequently has to work overtime to make up for the fact that the ears don’t hear as well as they should. Eventually, the part of the brain in charge of other tasks, like remembering, has to use some of its resources to help the region of the brain responsible for hearing. Mental decline will then develop faster than normal as the overtaxed brain strains to keep up.
How to prevent mental decline with hearing aids
The first line of defense against mental health issues and cognitive decline is hearing aids. When people use hearing aids to address hearing loss, studies have shown that they were at a reduced risk of dementia and had improved cognitive function.
If more people used their hearing aids, we may see less instances of mental health problems and cognitive decline. Between 15% and 30% of individuals who need hearing aids actually use them, which accounts for between 4.5 million and 9 million people. Nearly 50 million individuals cope with dementia according to the World Health Organization estimates. 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 improve your hearing and maintain your memory at the same time? Get in touch with us today and schedule a consultation to learn whether hearing aids are right for you and start moving toward better mental health.