Can Hearing Aids Help Stave Off Dementia?
Multiple studies link hearing loss to a higher risk of various forms of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers behind these studies theorize that an inability to hear and process language normally forces you to strain for comprehension. This draws your brain’s resources away from such vital activities as general thought (cognition) and memory. Not hearing well also causes people to withdraw from socializing with others, which can lead to a life of isolation and silence known to contribute to dementia. Researchers further suspect an as-yet-undefined direct link between hearing loss and dementia exists, perhaps even a common root cause. Whatever the exact mechanisms involved experts agree on one thing ―treating hearing loss is a positive step toward avoiding the onset of dementia.
Why hearing aids can make a difference
Studies are underway to determine whether there is a link of causation between hearing aids and helping people avoid developing Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, but correlative data clearly supports the belief that wearing hearing aids helps people continue to function well as they age. Hearing aid wearers tend to remain active intellectually, physically, and socially, all of which positively affect overall health and mental acuity. Here’s why:
- Intellectually: Hearing well makes it easier to process and remember new information. You feel confident going out and interacting with your environment and other people when you hear well, and this enables you to experience, absorb, and remember new things every day. This lifelong learning stimulates your brain like exercise stimulates muscle, keeping it healthy and strong.
- Physically: Hearing is linked to your balance and spatial senses, and hearing well helps you to avoid missteps and falls. By feeling steadier on your feet you’re more likely to exercise and stay in shape, which is vital for healthy blood flow and maintenance of mental sharpness. Cardiovascular disease and other conditions involving sluggish blood flow are known contributors to dementia.
- Socially: When you cannot hear well, you feel left out. Sometimes, people converse around you or don’t repeat themselves when you miss something they said. When social situations become unpleasant it’s not surprising you may want to avoid them, but this lack of regular human interaction puts you at higher risk of developing dementia. Hearing aids give you the confidence and ability to fully participate in conversations and enjoy social situations once again.
While it may be too soon to definitively state that wearing hearing aids will help you avoid the cognitive decline that leads to dementia, it is safe to say treating hearing loss is one controllable factor that is definitely worth the investment. For more information, contact a hearing care professional and have your hearing tested today.
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