Want to suck all the joy out of your next family get-together? Start talking about dementia.
Dementia is not a subject most individuals are intentionally looking to discuss, mainly because it’s rather frightening. A degenerative cognitive 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 loss. It’s not something anybody looks forward to.
This is why many people are looking for a way to prevent, or at least delay, the advancement of dementia. It turns out, untreated hearing loss and dementia have several fairly clear connections and correlations.>
You might be surprised by that. After all, what does your brain have to do with your ears (lots, it turns out)? Why are the dangers of dementia increased with hearing loss?>
What takes place when your hearing impairment is neglected?
You realize that you’re starting to lose your hearing, but it’s not at the top of your list of concerns. You can simply turn up the volume, right? Maybe you’ll just put 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. In either case, hearing loss and mental decline have a strong correlation. That might have something to do with what happens when you have untreated hearing loss.
- It becomes harder to understand conversations. You could start to keep yourself secluded from others as a result of this. You may become distant from loved ones and friends. You’ll talk to others less. This type of social separation is, well, not good for your brain. Not to mention your social life. Further, most people who have this kind of isolation won’t even recognize that hearing loss is the cause.
- 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 stick with us). Because of this, your brain tries to fill in the gaps. This is unbelievably taxing. The present theory is, when this occurs, your brain draws power from your thinking and memory centers. It’s believed that this may quicken the onset of dementia. Your brain working so hard can also cause all kinds of other symptoms, such as mental stress and tiredness.
So your hearing loss isn’t quite as harmless as you might have thought.
Hearing loss is one of the major signs of dementia
Let’s say you have only slight hearing impairment. Whispers may get lost, but you can hear everything else so…no big deal right? Well, even with that, your risk of getting dementia is doubled.
Which means that even minor hearing loss is a fairly good preliminary indication of a dementia risk.
Now… What does that mean?
We’re considering risk in this circumstance which is relevant to note. Hearing loss isn’t a guarantee of cognitive decline or even an early symptom of dementia. Instead, it just means you have a higher chance of developing dementia or experiencing cognitive decline later in life. But there could be an upside.
Because it means that successfully dealing with your hearing loss can help you lower your risk of cognitive decline. So how can hearing loss be addressed? Here are a few ways:
- You can take a few steps to safeguard your hearing from further damage if you catch your hearing loss early enough. For example, you could avoid noisy events (such as concerts or sports games) or wear hearing protection when you’re around anything loud (for example, if you work with heavy machinery).
- Wearing a hearing aid can help minimize the impact of hearing loss. So, can dementia be stopped by wearing hearing aids? That’s tough to say, but hearing aids can enhance brain function. Here’s the reason why: You’ll be more socially active and your brain won’t need to work so hard to have discussions. Research indicates that treating hearing loss can help reduce your danger of developing dementia in the future. It won’t stop dementia but we can still call it a win.
- Schedule an appointment with us to identify your present hearing loss.
Lowering your risk of dementia – other strategies
Of course, there are other things you can do to reduce your chance of dementia, too. This could include:
- Stop smoking. Seriously. It just makes everything bad, and that includes your chance of experiencing dementia (this list also includes excessive alcohol use).
- A diet that helps you maintain a healthy blood pressure and is good for your overall well being can go a long way. For individuals who naturally have higher blood pressure, it may be necessary to take medication to bring it down.
- Get some exercise.
- Getting adequate sleep at night is essential. Some studies link fewer than four hours of sleep each night to a higher risk of dementia.
The connection between lifestyle, hearing loss, and dementia is still being studied by scientists. It’s a complex disease with an array of causes. But any way you can decrease your risk is good.
Hearing is its own benefit
So, hearing better will help reduce your overall danger of developing cognitive decline in the future. You’ll be improving your life now, not just in the future. Imagine, no more solitary trips to the store, no more confused conversations, no more misunderstandings.
Losing out on the important things in life is no fun. And taking steps to deal with your hearing loss, possibly by using hearing aids, can be a big help.
So make sure to schedule an appointment with us right away!