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Image of someone with a hearing aid doing a brain game to improve cognitive ability.

Because it’s simple, soduku is a globally popular puzzle game. All you require in order to play is some grids, some numbers, and a pencil. A very enjoyable way to pass some hours, for many individuals, is a soduku puzzle book. That it’s a workout for your brain is an additional perk.

“Brain workouts” are becoming a popular means of fending off mental decline. But there are other methods of slowing down cognitive decline. At times, your brain needs a boost in mental stimulation and studies have revealed that hearing aids may be capable of filling that role.

What is Mental Decline?

Your brain has a truly use-it-or-lose-it temperament. Neural pathways will fizzle out without appropriate stimulation. Your brain needs to forge and strengthen neural pathways, that’s the reason why Sudoku works, it keeps you mentally active.

While some mental decline is a normal process associated with aging, there are some things that can accelerate or exacerbate that decline. Hearing loss, for instance, can introduce a particularly formidable peril for your cognitive health. When your hearing begins to diminish, two things happen that powerfully impact your brain:

  • You can’t hear as well: When you have less sound input, your auditory cortex (the part of your brain that deals with everything related to hearing) receives diminished stimulation. Your brain could end up changing in a way that makes it prioritize other senses like sight. Increased danger of cognitive decline has been connected to these changes.
  • You don’t go out as much: Self isolation is a very detrimental behavior, but that’s exactly what some individuals do when they suffer from hearing loss. Staying in to avoid conversations might seem simpler than going out and feeling self-conscious (specifically as your neglected hearing loss worsens). This can rob your brain of even more stimulation.

These two things, when put together, can cause your brain to change in major ways. Loss of memory, problems concentrating, and ultimately an increased risk of dementia have been related to this kind of mental decline.

Will Hearing Aids Reverse Declines?

So if your hearing loss is overlooked, this kind of mental decline can be the result. This means that the best way to reverse those declines is fairly clear: treat your hearing impairment! Usually, this means new hearing aids.

It’s well substantiated and also surprising the extent that hearing aids can slow down mental decline. Around 100 people with hearing loss from the age of 62 to age 82 were surveyed by the University of Melbourne. Among those adults who used their hearing aids for at least 18 months, more than 97% revealed that their cognitive decline either stopped or reversed.

Just wearing hearing aids brought about an almost universal improvement. We can learn a couple of things from this:

  • Finding ways to activate your auditory cortex would be advantageous because stimulation is the key to mental health. As long as you continue to hear (assisted by hearing aids), this essential area of your brain will remain stimulated, dynamic, and healthy.
  • Helping you continue to be social is one of the key functions of any pair of hearing aids. And the more social you can be, the more involved your brain stays. It’s easier (and more enjoyable) to talk with your friends when you can follow the conversation!

Doesn’t Mean Sudoku is a Bad Idea

This new study out of the University of Melbourne isn’t an outlier. Numerous studies appear to back the notion that hearing aids can help slow down mental decline, specifically when that decline would be hastened by neglected hearing loss. But many individuals have hearing loss and just don’t recognize it. The symptoms can sneak up on you. So if you’re feeling strained, forgetful, or even a little spacier than usual, it may be worth checking with your hearing specialist.

That hearing aids are so successful doesn’t automatically mean you should give up on your Sudoku or other brain games. They keep your brain refreshed and pliable and give you stronger overall cognitive function. Working your brain out and keeping cognitively fit can be helped by both hearing aids and brain games.

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The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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