If you begin talking about dementia at your next family get-together, you will probably put a dark cloud above the entire event.
The topic of dementia can be really frightening and most people aren’t going to purposely talk about it. A degenerative mental disease in which you slowly (or, more terrifyingly, quickly) lose your cognitive faculties, dementia forces you to lose touch with reality, experience mood swings, and have memory issues. It isn’t something anyone looks forward to.
This is why many people are seeking a way to prevent, or at least slow, the development of dementia. There are several clear connections, as it turns out, between dementia and neglected hearing loss.>
You may be surprised by that. What could your brain have to do with your ears after all? Why does hearing loss increase the risk of dementia?>
When you ignore hearing loss, what are the consequences?
Maybe you’ve detected your hearing loss already, but you’re not too worried about it. You can simply turn up the volume, right? Maybe, when you watch your favorite program, you’ll just turn on the captions.
On the other hand, maybe you haven’t noticed your hearing loss yet. Perhaps the signs are still easy to ignore. Either way, hearing loss and cognitive decline have a strong correlation. That could have something to do with what occurs when you have neglected hearing loss.
- Conversation becomes harder to understand. You could start to keep yourself secluded from others because of this. You may become distant from loved ones and friends. You won’t talk with people as often. It’s bad for your brain to isolate yourself like this. Not to mention your social life. Further, most people who have this sort of isolation won’t even realize that hearing loss is the cause.
- Your brain will be working overtime. Your ears will get less audio information when you’re dealing with untreated hearing loss. This will leave your brain filling in the missing gaps. This is unbelievably taxing. The present theory is, when this happens, your brain draws power from your thinking and memory centers. It’s believed that this could speed up the development of cognitive decline. Mental fatigue and exhaustion, along with other possible symptoms, can be the consequence of your brain needing to work so hard.
So your hearing loss is not quite as innocuous as you may have thought.
Hearing loss is one of the major indicators of dementia
Maybe 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 risk of developing dementia is doubled.
Which means that even minor hearing loss is a pretty good preliminary sign of a risk of dementia.
Now… What does that mean?
Well, it’s essential not to forget that we’re talking about risk here. Hearing loss isn’t a guarantee of dementia or even an early symptom of dementia. Instead, it just means you have a greater risk of developing dementia or going through cognitive decline later in life. But that might actually be good news.
Because it means that successfully managing your hearing loss can help you decrease your risk of dementia. So how do you deal with your hearing loss? There are several ways:
- If your hearing loss is detected early, there are certain measures you can take to safeguard your hearing. For example, you could avoid noisy events (like concerts or sports games) or use hearing protection when you’re around anything noisy (for example, if you work with heavy machinery).
- Come in and see us so we can help you identify any hearing loss you may have.
- Using a hearing aid can help minimize the impact of hearing loss. Now, can hearing aids stop cognitive decline? That isn’t an easy question to answer, but we appreciate that brain function can be enhanced by using hearing aids. This is the reason why: You’ll be capable of participating in more discussions, your brain won’t have to work as hard, and you’ll be a bit more socially connected. Your chance of developing dementia in the future is reduced by managing hearing loss, research indicates. It won’t prevent dementia but we can still call it a win.
Other ways to lower your dementia risk
Of course, there are other things you can do to lower your risk of dementia, too. This could include:
- Getting sufficient sleep at night is essential. Some studies have linked an increased chance of dementia to getting fewer than four hours of sleep every night.
- Get some exercise.
- Don’t smoke. Seriously. Smoking will raise your chance of cognitive decline and will impact your general health (excess alcohol use is also on this list).
- A diet that keeps your blood pressure down and is good for your overall well being can go a long way. For individuals who naturally have higher blood pressure, it could be necessary to use medication to lower it.
Of course, scientists are still studying the link between dementia, hearing loss, lifestyle, and more. There are so many causes that make this disease so complex. But the lower your risk, the better.
Being able to hear is its own advantage
So, over time, hearing better will decrease your general risk of cognitive decline. You’ll be improving your life now, not just in the future. Imagine, no more missed conversations, no more muffled misunderstandings, no more quiet and lonely trips to the grocery store.
It’s no fun losing out on life’s important moments. And taking steps to control your hearing loss, perhaps by using hearing aids, can be a big help.
So call us today for an appointment.