Hearing loss is typically accepted as simply a normal part of the aging process: as we get older, we start to hear things a little less clearly. Maybe we begin to turn up the volume on the TV or keep asking our grandkids to speak up when they’re talking to us, or maybe we begin to forget things?
Loss of memory is also often regarded as a normal part of aging as dementia and Alzheimer’s are a lot more prevalent in the senior citizen population than in the general population at large. But is it possible that there’s a connection between the two? And is it possible to safeguard your mental health and address hearing loss at the same time?
The link between cognitive decline and hearing loss
Most people do not connect hearing loss with mental decline and dementia. But if you look in the appropriate places, you will discover a clear connection: studies show that there is a substantial risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia-like conditions if you also suffer from hearing loss – even at fairly low levels of hearing impairment.
People who have hearing loss also often have mental health issues including depression and anxiety. 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?
There is a connection between hearing loss and cognitive decline, and though there’s no concrete proof that there is a direct cause and effect relationship, experts are exploring some persuasive clues. They have pinpointed two main situations that they believe lead to issues: your brain working harder to hear and social isolation.
Many studies show that loneliness results in depression and anxiety. And when people have hearing loss, they’re less likely to interact socially with other people. Many individuals find it hard to go out to the movies or dinner because they can’t hear very well. These actions lead down a path of isolation, which can bring about mental health problems.
Studies have also shown that when somebody has hearing impairment, the brain has to work overtime to compensate for the diminished stimulation. Ultimately, the part of the brain responsible for other tasks, like holding memories, has to use some of its resources to help the region of the brain responsible for hearing. This overtaxes the brain and causes mental decline to set in much faster than if the brain could process sounds normally.
How to prevent mental decline with hearing aids
The weapon against mental health problems and cognitive decline is hearing aids. When patients use hearing aids to deal with hearing loss, studies have revealed that they were at a lower risk of dementia and had improved cognitive function.
We would see fewer cases of cognitive decline and mental health issues if more people would just use their hearing aids. Between 15% and 30% of individuals who require hearing aids actually use them, which accounts for between 4.5 million and 9 million people. Almost 50 million people cope with dementia according to the World Health Organization estimates. If hearing aids can reduce 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 begin hearing better – and remembering things without any problems? Get in touch with us today and make an appointment for a consultation to find out if hearing aids are right for you and to get on the path to better mental health.