Hearing loss isn’t an isolated issue. It doesn’t just make it harder for us to follow conversations, or hear in noisy settings like a family dinner party or a crowded restaurant. Hearing loss is linked to cognitive decline in older people. Living with untreated hearing loss can impact the brain in some surprising ways, and even jeopardize your overall health and well being.
How Hearing Loss Can Lead to Cognitive Decline
Everyone has moments of forgetfulness. We’ve all wondered if we remembered to turn off the oven and lock the door. Some cognitive decline is a normal part of aging. Just as our bodies get a bit stiffer, or we have some pain in our joints, our brain also starts to feel the effects of age. Living with untreated hearing loss can lead to much more rapid cognitive decline, and it has been linked to increased risks of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Hearing loss may start in your ears, but it doesn’t end there. When you live with untreated hearing loss, your ears don’t hear all the sounds around you. The brain never receives a full picture of the sounds in your environment. The auditory centers in the brain aren’t being used to their full potential, and soon some of the cells in these areas start to deteriorate. Some are even taken over by other systems. Untreated hearing loss can lead to more rapid cognitive decline as brain cells die or get repurposed.
Putting a Strain on the Brain
Living with untreated hearing loss puts a strain on the brain. As you struggle to hear what’s being said, your brain goes into overdrive trying to help you hear clearly. This can make you feel exhausted at the end of the day, and you’ll have a hard time focusing on anything in the evening. When you have hearing loss, it’s not just your hearing abilities that change. You spend so much energy straining to hear that you don’t have energy left over to actually understand what’s being said, or have the brain power to focus on tasks and get things done.
Hearing Aids can Mitigate Cognitive Decline in Older People
The good news is that treating hearing loss with hearing aids can mitigate these cognitive effects! A study published in 2018 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society examined the cognitive performance of adults. They looked at data from over 2,000 older adults who had completed cognitive and memory tests every 2 years for 18 years.
Older adults with hearing loss had more rapid rates of cognitive decline, but older adults who wore hearing aids mitigated these declines. This means that treating hearing loss with hearing aids can slow cognitive decline in older adults and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. The older adults who treated their hearing loss with hearing aids showed slower rates of cognitive decline than before they started wearing hearing aids.
Treating Hearing Loss Prevents Cognitive Decline
Hearing aids can make a major difference in your life. They make it easier to follow conversations with your family and friends, and can give you back your energy. Hearing aids prevent or slow cognitive decline by keeping your brain active without putting too much of a strain on your brain.
It’s important to treat hearing loss as soon as you notice any changes in your hearing. Hearing aids can’t restore cognitive ability that’s been lost, so you’ll need to treat your hearing loss early. When you treat your hearing loss, you’ll mitigate cognitive declines and keep your brain healthy. Hearing loss can start in your 40s or 50s, so watch for the signs of hearing loss. It’s best to start treating hearing loss the moment it appears so you won’t deal with cognitive decline.
Quality hearing aids will help you hear the sounds around you, including the conversations you’re straining to hear. We know how important your relationships are, and our hearing aids will help you hear every word so you can connect with your loved ones in a whole new way. Hearing aids will improve your overall quality of life and well being by keeping you connected with your family and friends, and they’ll keep your brain healthy.