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

Because of its simplicity, soduku is a globally popular puzzle game. All you need to play is a few grids, some numbers, and a pencil. A very enjoyable way to pass some time, for many, is a soduku puzzle book. It’s an additional perk that it’s good for your brain.

It’s become popular to use “brain workouts” to deal with cognitive decline. But Sudoku isn’t the only method of delaying cognitive recession. At times, your brain requires a boost in mental stimulation and research has demonstrated that hearing aids may be able to fill that role.

Mental Decline, What is it?

Your brain is a “use it or lose it” organ. Neural pathways will fizzle out without appropriate stimulation. That’s the reason why Sudoku has a tendency to keep you mentally active: it forces your brain to think, to creatively make and reinforce numerous neural pathways.

While a certain amount of mental decline is a normal process associated with aging, there are some factors that can hasten or exacerbate that decline. Hearing loss, for example, can introduce a particularly potent danger for your mental health. Two things occur that powerfully affect your brain when your hearing starts to wain:

  • You hear less: There is less sound going in to activate your auditory cortex (the hearing center of the brain). Your brain may end up changing in a way that makes it prioritize other senses like sight. These changes have been linked to an increased danger of mental decline.
  • 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 home to steer clear of conversations might seem easier than going out and feeling self-conscious (particularly as your neglected hearing loss worsens). But this is a bad idea as it can deprive your brain of that necessary stimulation.

Put together, these two things can be the cause of a major change in your brain. Memory loss, difficulty concentrating, and eventually a higher risk of dementia have been linked to this type of mental decline.

Can Hearing Aids Reverse Declines?

So if your hearing loss is neglected, this type of cognitive decline can be the result. This means that the best way to reverse those declines is pretty obvious: deal with your hearing impairment! Usually, this means new hearing aids.

The amount that hearing aids can slow cognitive decline is both unexpected and well-corroborated. Scientists at the University of Melbourne interviewed approximately 100 adults between the ages of 62-82, all of whom had some kind of hearing loss. Among those adults who used their hearing aids for at least 18 months, more than 97% reported that their mental decline either stabilized or reversed.

Just using hearing aids resulted in a nearly universal improvement. That tells us a couple of things:

  • Helping you remain social is one of the primary functions of any set of hearing aids. And your brain remains more involved when you stay social. It’s easier (and more fun) to talk with your friends when you can follow the conversation!
  • Finding ways to keep your auditory cortex active would be advantageous because stimulation is essential to mental well being. This portion of your brain will remain vital and healthy as long as you keep hearing ( with help from hearing aids).

Doesn’t Mean Sudoku is a Bad Idea

This new research out of the University of Melbourne isn’t an outlier. If you have neglected hearing loss, many studies have demonstrated that wearing hearing aids can help decrease cognitive decline. The difficulty is that not everyone recognizes that they have hearing loss. You might not even notice the early symptoms. So it’s worth making an appointment with your hearing specialist if you’ve been feeling a bit spacey, forgetful, or stressed.

That hearing aids are so successful doesn’t necessarily mean you should quit doing Sudoku or other brain games. They keep your brain refreshed and pliable and give you better overall cognitive function. Working your brain out and staying mentally fit can be assisted 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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