If you begin talking about dementia at your next family get-together, you will probably put a dark cloud above the whole event.
Dementia isn’t a topic most people are intentionally seeking to talk about, mainly because it’s pretty frightening. A degenerative mental disease in which you slowly (or, more frighteningly, quickly) lose your cognitive faculties, dementia forces you to lose touch with reality, go through mood swings, and have memory problems. It isn’t something anybody looks forward to.
So stopping or at least delaying dementia is important for many individuals. It turns out, neglected hearing loss and dementia have several pretty clear connections and correlations.>
That might seem a bit… surprising to you. After all, what does your brain have to do with your ears (a lot, actually)? Why does hearing loss raise chances of dementia?>
When you neglect hearing loss, what are the repercussions?
You realize that you’re beginning to lose your hearing, but it isn’t at the top of your list of worries. It’s nothing that cranking up the volume on your tv won’t fix, right? Maybe, when you watch your favorite program, you’ll just put on the captions.
Or perhaps your hearing loss has gone unobserved so far. Maybe the signs are still easy to ignore. Either way, hearing loss and cognitive decline have a solid correlation. That may have something to do with what happens when you have untreated hearing loss.
- Conversation becomes harder to understand. As a result, you may start to isolate yourself socially. You can withdraw from family, friends, and loved ones. You’ll talk to others less. It’s bad for your brain to separate yourself this way. Not to mention your social life. Additionally, many individuals who cope with hearing loss-related social isolation don’t even realize it’s happening, and they likely won’t connect their isolation to their hearing.
- Your brain will start to work much harder. Your ears will collect less audio information when you’re dealing with untreated hearing loss. Because of this, your brain tries to fill in the gaps. This will really exhaust your brain. The current concept is, when this takes place, your brain draws power from your thought and memory centers. It’s believed that this might quicken the development of dementia. Your brain working so hard can also cause all kinds of other symptoms, like mental stress and tiredness.
So your hearing impairment is not quite as innocuous as you may have thought.
One of the major indicators of dementia is hearing loss
Let’s say you just have slight hearing loss. Like, you can’t hear whispers, but everything else sounds normal. Well, even with that, your risk of getting dementia is doubled.
So one of the preliminary indications of dementia can be even mild hearing loss.
Now… What does that mean?
Well, it’s important not to forget that we’re dealing with risk here. Hearing loss isn’t a guarantee of dementia or even an early symptom of dementia. It does mean that later in life you will have an increased risk of developing cognitive decline. But that might actually be good news.
Because it means that successfully dealing with your hearing loss can help you decrease your chance of dementia. So how do you manage your hearing loss? Here are a few ways:
- If your hearing loss is caught early, there are some measures you can take to safeguard your hearing. You could, for instance, use hearing protection if you work in a loud environment and steer clear of noisy events like concerts or sporting events.
- Come in and see us so we can help you identify any hearing loss you may have.
- The affect of hearing loss can be decreased by wearing hearing aids. Now, can hearing aids stop cognitive decline? That isn’t an easy question to answer, but we recognize that brain function can be enhanced by using hearing aids. Here’s the reason why: You’ll be capable of participating in more conversations, your brain won’t have to work as hard, and you’ll be a little more socially connected. Research implies that managing hearing loss can help reduce your danger of developing dementia when you get older. That’s not the same as stopping dementia, but it’s a good thing regardless.
Lowering your chance of dementia – other methods
Naturally, there are other things you can do to decrease your chance of dementia, too. Here are some examples:
- Eating a healthy diet, especially one that helps you keep your blood pressure from going too high. In some cases, medication can help here, some people just have naturally higher blood pressure; those individuals may need medication sooner than later.
- Getting adequate sleep at night is essential. There are studies that link less than four hours of sleep per night to an increase in the risk of dementia.
- Get some exercise.
- Don’t smoke. Seriously. Smoking will raise your risk of cognitive decline as well as impacting your overall health (excessive alcohol drinking can also go on this list).
Of course, scientists are still researching the link between dementia, hearing loss, lifestyle, and more. There are a multitude of causes that make this disease so complex. But any way you can lower your risk is good.
Being able to hear is its own advantage
So, over time, hearing better will reduce your general risk of cognitive decline. You’ll be bettering your life now, not only in the future. Imagine, no more missed discussions, no more garbled misunderstandings, no more quiet and lonely trips to the grocery store.
It’s no fun losing out on life’s important moments. And a small amount of hearing loss management, maybe in the form of a hearing aid, can help significantly.
So make sure to schedule an appointment with us today!