Woman with long dark hair and black rimmed glasses experiencing cognitive decline.

Hearing loss is typically accepted as just another part of the aging process: as we age, we start to hear things a little less clearly. Maybe we start turning the volume up on the TV or keep asking our grandkids to speak up when they’re talking to us, or maybe we start forgetting things?
Loss of memory is also frequently seen as a normal 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 somehow related? And could it be possible to protect your mental health and address hearing loss at the same time?

The connection between mental decline and hearing loss

Most people don’t associate hearing loss with cognitive decline and dementia. But if you look in the appropriate places, you will find a clear link: studies show that there is a considerable risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia-like disorders if you also have hearing loss – even at relatively low levels of hearing impairment.
Mental health problems including anxiety and depression are also fairly prevalent in individuals who have hearing loss. The key here is that hearing loss, mental health issues, and cognitive decline all impact our ability to socialize.

Why does hearing loss affect cognitive decline?

While there is no concrete finding or conclusive proof that hearing loss causes cognitive decline and mental health issues, there is some association and numerous clues that experts are looking at. They have identified two main situations that they think result in issues: the inability to interact socially and your brain working overtime.
Studies have demonstrated that depression and anxiety are frequently the result of loneliness. And when people suffer from hearing loss, they’re less likely to socialize with other people. Many people who suffered from hearing loss find it’s too hard to participate in conversations or can’t hear well enough to enjoy things like going to the movies. These actions lead to isolation, which can bring about mental health problems.

Studies have also revealed that when someone has hearing loss, the brain has to work overtime to make up 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. Cognitive decline will then progress faster than normal as the overtaxed brain struggles to keep up.

Using hearing aids to stop cognitive decline

Hearing aids are our first line of defense against mental decline, mental health problems, and dementia. When patients use hearing aids to address hearing loss, studies have shown that they were at a lower risk of dementia and had increased cognitive function.
If more people wore their hearing aids, we may see less instances of mental health issues 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 people cope with dementia according to the World Health Organization estimates. For many individuals and families, the quality of life will be improved if hearing aids can reduce that number by even a couple million people.
Are you ready to improve your hearing and protect your memory at the same time? Get on the path to better hearing and improved mental health by calling us for an appointment.

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