Hearing Associates of Libertyville, IL

Woman with hearing loss happy to have her freedom and independence while riding in a convertible.

Remember when you got your first car? Nothing can be compared to that sense of independence. At any time you could reach out to some friends and drive wherever you wanted. Many people who have hearing loss have this same type of experience when they get their first pair of hearing aids.

How can getting your first hearing aids compare to getting your first car? There are some subtle reasons why having hearing aids can help you keep your independence. As it turns out, your hearing has a powerful effect on your brain’s functionality.

Neuroplasticity

Your brain’s capacity to respond to changes can be explained as follows: Following the same way as you always have, you set off for work. You soon discover that there is an accident stopping you from going through. How would you react? Would you quit and go back home? Most likely not unless you’re trying to find an excuse to avoid going to work. Seeking out a different way to go is most likely what you would do. As long as your regular route was closed this new route would become your new everyday routine. If this new route turned out to be more efficient, you would substitute the old one with it.

When a normal brain function is stopped, your brain does the exact same thing. The name neuroplasticity defines the brain’s process of rerouting along different pathways.

Perfecting new skills such as drawing or painting, or learning a new language are carried out by neuroplasticity. It also helps you build healthy habits. Activities that were at one time challenging become automatic as physical modifications to the brain slowly adapt to match the new pathways. While neuroplasticity is usually helpful for learning new things, it can also be equally as good at causing you to you forget what you know.

Neuroplasticity And Loss of Hearing

A perfect example of how neuroplasticity can have a negative impact is hearing loss. As explained in The Hearing Review, The pathways inside of your brain will quickly begin to be re-purposed if they stop processing sound according to a study done by the University of Colorado. And it probably isn’t ideal for them to change in that way. The association between loss of hearing and cognitive decrease can be explained by this.

If you have hearing loss, the parts of your brain responsible for functions, such as vision or touch, can solicit the less-utilized areas of the brain responsible for hearing. This decreases the brain’s available resources for processing sound, and it weakens our capability of understanding speech.

So, if you are constantly asking people to repeat themselves, hearing loss has already begun. And even more important is the reality that your brain might already be starting to restructure.

Can Hearing Aids Help You

This talent of your brain has a positive and a negative. Neuroplasticity may possibly make your hearing loss worse, but it also enhances the performance of hearing aids. You can definitely make the most of advanced hearing aid technology thanks to your brain’s amazing ability to regenerate tissue and reroute neural paths. Hearing aids encourage mental growth by stimulating the parts of your brain associated with hearing loss.

The American Geriatrics Society published a long term study, in fact. Cognitive decline was decreased in people with hearing aids, according to this study. The study, titled Self-Reported Hearing Loss: Hearing Aids and Cognitive Decline in Elderly Adults: A 25-year Study, followed over three thousand adults over the age of 65. The study showed that people with hearing loss had a higher rate of cognitive decline. However, people that used hearing aids to correct their hearing loss showed no difference in the rate of cognitive decline as compared to those with normal hearing.

We already knew quite a bit about neuroplasticity and this study verifies that understanding: if you don’t use it you will end up losing it because the brain arranges its functions according to the amount of stimulation it gets and the need at hand.”

Maintaining a Young Brain

It doesn’t matter how old you are, the versatility of the brain means that it can modify itself at any time. You should also take into consideration that hearing loss can speed up mental decline and that simply using hearing aids can stop or reduce this decline.

Don’t discount your hearing aids as cheap over-the-counter sound amplifiers. According to leading brain plasticity expert Dr. Michael Merzenich, you can enhance your brain function regardless of any health issues by pushing yourself to perform challenging new activities, being socially active, and practicing mindfulness amongst other strategies.

Hearing aids are a vital part of ensuring your quality of life. Becoming isolated and withdrawn is a common problem for people with hearing loss. If you would like to stay active and independent, invest in a pair of hearing aids. After all, you want your brain to keep receiving stimulation and processing the sounds that you hear so it will remain as young as you feel!

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