If you begin talking about dementia at your next family get-together, you will most likely put a dark cloud above the entire event.
The subject of dementia can be really frightening and most individuals aren’t going to go out of their way to talk about it. Dementia, which is a degenerative cognitive condition, causes you to lose a grip on reality, experience loss of memory, and causes a general loss of mental function. Nobody wants to experience that.
So stopping or at least delaying dementia is a priority for many individuals. It turns out, neglected hearing loss and dementia have some fairly clear connections and correlations.>
You may be surprised by that. What does your brain have to do with your ears after all? Why are the risks of dementia increased with hearing loss?>
What takes place when your hearing impairment is neglected?
Perhaps you’ve detected your hearing loss already, but you’re not too concerned about it. It’s nothing that turning up the volume on your tv won’t solve, right? Maybe you’ll simply turn on the captions when you’re watching your favorite show.
Or maybe your hearing loss has gone unnoticed so far. Maybe the signs are still subtle. Either way, hearing loss and cognitive decline have a strong connection. That’s because of the effects of untreated hearing loss.
- It becomes harder to understand conversations. You could begin to keep yourself isolated from others as a result of this. You might become distant from loved ones and friends. You’ll talk to others less. It’s bad for your brain to separate yourself like this. It’s not good for your social life either. What’s more, many individuals who cope with hearing loss-related social isolation don’t even realize it’s happening, and they most likely won’t connect their solitude to their hearing.
- Your brain will be working overtime. When you have untreated hearing loss, your ears don’t pick up nearly as much audio information (this is kind of obvious, yes, but stay with us). This will leave your brain filling in the missing info. This will really exhaust your brain. Your brain will then have to get extra energy from your memory and thought centers (at least that’s the current concept). It’s believed that this might hasten the development of cognitive decline. Your brain working so hard can also cause all kinds of other symptoms, such as mental stress and tiredness.
So your hearing impairment is not quite as harmless as you might have thought.
Hearing loss is one of the major indicators of dementia
Perhaps your hearing loss is slight. Whispers may get lost, but you’re able to hear everything else so…no big deal right? Well, even with that, your chance of developing dementia is doubled.
Meaning that even minor hearing loss is a fairly good initial sign of a risk of dementia.
Now… What does that suggest?
Well, it’s important to remember that we’re talking about risk here. Hearing loss isn’t an early symptom of dementia and there’s no guarantee it will result in dementia. It does mean that later in life you will have an increased risk of developing cognitive decline. But there may be an upside.
Your risk of cognitive decline is decreased by successfully managing your hearing loss. So how can you deal with your hearing loss? Here are a few ways:
- Using a hearing aid can help decrease the impact of hearing loss. Now, can hearing aids prevent dementia? That’s tough to say, but hearing aids can boost brain function. Here’s why: You’ll be capable of participating in more conversations, your brain won’t need to work as hard, and you’ll be a little more socially involved. Research indicates that treating hearing loss can help decrease your danger of developing dementia when you get older. That’s not the same as preventing dementia, but it’s a good thing regardless.
- You can take some steps to safeguard your hearing from further harm if you detect your hearing loss early enough. You could, for instance, use hearing protection if you work in a noisy 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.
Lowering your chance of dementia – other strategies
You can decrease your chance of cognitive decline by doing some other things as well, of course. Here are a few examples:
- A diet that keeps your blood pressure down and is good for your overall well being can go a long way. For people who naturally have higher blood pressure, it may be necessary to take medication to bring it down.
- Get some exercise.
- Don’t smoke. Seriously. It just makes everything worse, and that includes your risk of experiencing dementia (excessive alcohol use can also go on this list).
- Getting adequate sleep at night is imperative. Some studies link fewer than four hours of sleep per night to an increase in the risk of dementia.
Of course, scientists are still researching the connection between dementia, hearing loss, lifestyle, and more. It’s a complicated disease with an array of causes. But any way you can decrease your risk is good.
Being able to hear is its own advantage
So, over time, hearing better will decrease your overall risk of cognitive decline. But it isn’t just your future golden years you’ll be improving, it’s now. Imagine, no more solitary trips to the store, no more lost conversations, no more misunderstandings.
It’s no fun missing out on life’s important moments. And taking steps to control your hearing loss, possibly by using hearing aids, can be a big help.
So call us today for an appointment.