If you begin talking about dementia at your next family get-together, you will most likely put a dark cloud over the entire event.
Dementia isn’t a subject most people are intentionally looking to discuss, mostly because it’s pretty frightening. A degenerative cognitive disease in which you gradually (or, more frighteningly, quickly) lose your mental faculties, dementia causes you to lose touch with reality, experience mood swings, and have memory issues. No one wants to experience that.
So stopping or at least slowing dementia is a priority for many people. There are several clear connections, as it turns out, between dementia and neglected hearing loss.>
You might be surprised by that. What does your brain have to do with your ears after all? Why does hearing loss increase the risk of dementia?>
When you ignore hearing loss, what are the repercussions?
You recognize that you’re beginning to lose your hearing, but it isn’t at the top of your list of concerns. It’s nothing that cranking up the volume on your tv won’t solve, right? Maybe, when you watch your favorite program, you’ll just put on the captions.
On the other hand, maybe you haven’t detected your hearing loss yet. Maybe the signs are still easy to dismiss. In either case, hearing loss and mental decline have a powerful correlation. That may have something to do with what occurs when you have untreated hearing loss.
- It becomes harder to understand conversations. You could start to keep yourself secluded from others because of this. You can draw away from family, friends, and loved ones. You speak to others less. This kind of social isolation is, well, bad for your brain. It’s not good for your social life either. Additionally, many people who experience hearing loss-related social isolation don’t even realize it’s happening, and they probably won’t connect their isolation to their hearing.
- Your brain will be working harder. Your ears will get less audio information when you have untreated hearing loss. Because of this, your brain tries to fill in the gaps. This is extremely taxing. The current concept is, when this takes place, your brain pulls power from your thinking and memory centers. The idea is that after a while this leads to dementia (or, at least, helps it along). Your brain working so hard can also result in all kinds of other symptoms, such as mental stress and exhaustion.
You may have suspected that your hearing loss was more innocuous than it really is.
One of the major signs of dementia is hearing loss
Maybe your hearing loss is slight. Like, you’re unable to hear whispers, but everything else sounds just fine. Well, turns out you’re still twice as likely to get dementia as somebody who doesn’t have hearing loss.
Which means that even mild hearing loss is a fairly strong initial indication of a dementia risk.
Now… What does that suggest?
Well, it’s essential not to forget that we’re talking about risk here. Hearing loss isn’t an early symptom of dementia and there’s no guarantee it will lead to dementia. Rather, it just means you have a higher chance of developing dementia or experiencing cognitive decline later in life. But that can actually be good news.
Because it means that successfully managing your hearing loss can help you reduce your risk of cognitive decline. So how can hearing loss be managed? Here are several ways:
- The impact of hearing loss can be minimized by wearing hearing aids. So, can cognitive decline be avoided by using hearing aids? That’s tough to say, but hearing aids can boost brain function. Here’s the reason why: You’ll be more socially involved and your brain won’t have to work so hard to carry on conversations. Your chance of developing dementia later in life is reduced by managing hearing loss, research suggests. That’s not the same as stopping dementia, but it’s a good thing nonetheless.
- Set up an appointment with us to identify your existing hearing loss.
- If your hearing loss is caught early, there are certain measures you can take to safeguard your hearing. For example, you could avoid noisy events (like concerts or sports games) or use hearing protection when you’re near anything noisy (for example, if you work with heavy machinery).
Lowering your risk of dementia – other strategies
Of course, there are other things you can do to reduce your chance of dementia, too. This could include:
- Quit smoking. Seriously. Smoking will increase your risk of dementia and will impact your overall health (this list also includes excessive alcohol use).
- Getting adequate sleep at night is imperative. Some research links a higher risk of dementia to getting less than four hours of sleep per night.
- Eating a healthy diet, especially one that helps you keep your blood pressure from getting too high. In some cases, medication can help here, some individuals just have naturally higher blood pressure; those people may need medication sooner rather than later.
- Get some exercise.
The link between lifestyle, hearing loss, and dementia is still being researched by scientists. There are so many causes that make this disease so complex. But any way you can reduce your risk is good.
Hearing is its own benefit
So, over time, hearing better will decrease your general risk of dementia. You’ll be improving your life now, not just in the future. Imagine, no more missed conversations, no more garbled misunderstandings, no more quiet and lonely trips to the grocery store.
It’s no fun missing out on life’s important moments. And a small amount of hearing loss management, possibly in the form of a hearing aid, can help significantly.
So call us today for an appointment.
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