In the past, there have been strong cases that presumed the interconnectedness of hearing and brain health. New data is helping to back up that speculation.
The Lancet published a study this year that hearing aids can significantly lower the risks for the onset of dementia. This research maintains the understanding that seeking help and treatment for hearing loss might protect and improve cognitive abilities.
How and why is healthy hearing crucial for proper cognitive function? How are hearing aids helpful for someone’s brain and overall health?
The Relationship between Dementia, Hearing problems, and Hearing aids
For some, hearing aids may only be known to improve hearing. More benefits come with wearing them, like a user’s ability to process sounds.
Hearing loss can make traditional learning experiences more challenging, as processing new information can become daunting. If you can’t hear clearly, struggling to hear can lead to listening fatigue. In addition to exhausting efforts to listen, hearing loss has a connection to increased brain shrinkage. This phenomenon can occur through atrophy or loss of brain tissue.
Hearing loss can lead to social isolation, which can lead to dementia. The inability to hear can lead people to withdraw from others. Socializing with others stimulates the brain, which can prevent atrophy in the brain while helping overall cognitive function.
Hearing aids, Socializing, Cognitive Function, and Overall Well-Being
As mentioned, socializing is necessary for cognitive function. It helps reduce loneliness, isolation, and depression. These are all risk factors for dementia. Healthy hearing is crucial for enjoyable socializing. In the same way that impaired vision stops people from seeing everything around them, hearing loss can prevent people from hearing in their environment - that’s part of a healthy social life. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine reported that withdrawing from socializing increases dementia by 50%.
Hearing aid usage can change that. The ability to hear a simple conversation can exercise your brain. Active listening, remembering something from the past, and expressing yourself can improve cognitive function. Hearing aids can make socializing easier while being more aware of your environment.
You can calm any worries about your safety when there’s a better awareness of your surroundings. If you are in your home or a public space and there’s an emergency, hearing aids will help you become alert to those emergencies. If you don’t have hearing aids, or they are not working, figure out a different means of communication. That can include texting or writing things down using a pen and paper. Hearing aids can help lower the chances of falls due to imbalance. Your balance and hearing are interconnected.
According to The Lancet, about 8% of dementia cases are preventable through professional hearing intervention. Hearing aid users have 19% less risk of cognitive decline and 17% less possibility of dementia than those who have not had their hearing loss treated.
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health revealed that dementia is more common among the study’s participants who experience moderate or severe hearing loss - at a 61% higher rate than participants with normal hearing. There were 32% lower cases of dementia among participants who used hearing aids with mild to severe hearing loss.
Wearing hearing aids can improve the user’s ability to correctly understand information and perhaps be better at retaining that information. Hearing aids don’t cure anything, including hearing and memory conditions. Instead, hearing aids help users hear better with the hearing abilities that they still have - also known as residual hearing. People may remember things better if they can listen and understand others.
The Best Ways to Protect Yourself Against Dementia
Protect your hearing and prevent hearing loss. If you are noticing hearing loss, seek help immediately. When you receive a hearing test and if the results indicate hearing loss, the professional who conducted the test may recommend hearing aids or an assistive listening device.
Wearing fitted and programmed hearing aids tailored to your specific hearing loss is crucial to reduce any additional hearing loss or cognitive function.
If you or a loved one are experiencing hearing loss and believe hearing aids would be beneficial, please contact Pure Sound Hearing for a complimentary hearing test and consultation.