Want to take all the fun out of your next family get-together? Start to talk about dementia.
Dementia is not a topic most people are actively seeking to discuss, mainly because it’s pretty frightening. Dementia, which is a degenerative cognitive disease, causes you to lose touch with reality, experience memory loss, and brings about an over-all loss of mental function. It isn’t something anyone looks forward to.
So preventing or at least slowing dementia is a priority for many individuals. It turns out, untreated hearing loss and dementia have some pretty clear connections and correlations.>
You may be surprised by that. What could your brain have to do with your ears after all? Why are the dangers of dementia increased with hearing loss?>
What occurs when your hearing impairment goes untreated?
Perhaps you’ve noticed your hearing loss already, but you aren’t too concerned about it. You can simply crank up the volume, right? Maybe you’ll just put on the captions when you’re watching your favorite program.
On the other hand, perhaps you haven’t noticed your hearing loss yet. Perhaps the signs are still subtle. Mental decline and hearing loss are firmly linked either way. That could have something to do with what happens when you have untreated hearing loss.
- Conversation becomes more difficult to understand. Consequently, you may start to isolate yourself socially. You can draw away from family, friends, and loved ones. You won’t talk with others as often. This sort of social separation is, well, bad for your brain. Not to mention your social life. Further, most individuals who have this type of isolation won’t even realize that hearing loss is the cause.
- Your brain will be working overtime. When you have neglected hearing loss, your ears don’t get nearly as much audio information (this is kind of obvious, yes, but stick with us). This will leave your brain filling in the missing gaps. This will really exhaust your brain. Your brain will then have to get additional power from your memory and thought centers (at least that’s the present theory). It’s believed that this may quicken the onset of cognitive decline. Mental fatigue and exhaustion, as well as other possible symptoms, can be the consequence of your brain having to work so hard.
You might have suspected that your hearing loss was more harmless than it actually is.
One of the major signs of dementia is hearing loss
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 getting dementia is doubled.
So one of the initial signs of dementia can be even minor hearing loss.
Now… What does that suggest?
We’re considering risk in this situation which is relevant to note. 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 a higher risk of developing cognitive decline. But that could actually be good news.
Because it means that effectively dealing with your hearing loss can help you lower your chance of dementia. So how can hearing loss be addressed? Here are a few ways:
- Using a hearing aid can help minimize the affect of hearing loss. Now, can hearing aids prevent cognitive decline? That’s hard to say, but hearing aids can enhance brain function. This is why: You’ll be more socially involved and your brain won’t have to work so hard to have discussions. Research suggests that treating hearing loss can help reduce your risk of developing dementia in the future. It won’t prevent dementia but we can still call it a win.
- If your hearing loss is caught early, there are some steps you can take to protect your hearing. For example, you could steer clear of noisy events (like concerts or sports games) or wear hearing protection when you’re around anything noisy (for example, if you work with heavy machinery).
- Schedule an appointment with us to identify your current hearing loss.
Other ways to lower your dementia risk
Naturally, there are other things you can do to reduce your chance of cognitive decline, too. This might include:
- Don’t smoke. Seriously. Smoking will raise your chance of cognitive decline and will impact your overall health (excessive alcohol use can also go on this list).
- Getting enough sleep at night is crucial. There are studies that link less than four hours of sleep per night to an increase in the risk of dementia.
- Exercise is needed for good overall health including hearing health.
- Eating more healthy food, specifically one that helps you keep your blood pressure from getting too high. For individuals who naturally have higher blood pressure, it may be necessary to use medication to lower it.
The link between lifestyle, hearing loss, and dementia is still being researched by scientists. There are so many causes that make this disease so complicated. But any way you can decrease your risk is good.
Hearing is its own benefit
So, hearing better will help lower your overall risk of developing cognitive decline down the line. You’ll be bettering your life now, not just in the future. Imagine, no more solitary visits to the store, no more lost conversations, no more misunderstandings.
It’s no fun losing out on life’s important moments. And a little bit of hearing loss management, possibly in the form of a hearing aid, can help significantly.
So make sure to schedule an appointment with us right away!