Image of someone with a hearing aid doing a brain game to improve cognitive ability.

Sudoku is one of the most popular puzzle games in the world, in large part because of its simplicity. All you need in order to play is some grids, a pencil, and some numbers. A very pleasant way to pass some time, for many, is a soduku puzzle book. It’s an additional bonus that it strengthens your brain.

“Brain workouts” have become a popular means of fending off cognitive decline. But there are other means of slowing down mental decline. Recent research has demonstrated that hearing aids may be able to provide your brain with a nice little boost in mental stimulation, reducing the progression of mental decline.

Mental Decline, What is it?

Your brain is a “use it or lose it” organ. Without stimulation, neural pathways will fizzle. Your brain has to make and reinforce neural pathways, that’s why Sudoku works, it keeps you mentally active.

There are some things that will hasten the process that would be a normal amount of cognitive decline connected with the aging process. Hearing loss, for instance, can present an especially potent peril for your cognitive health. Two things happen that powerfully impact your brain when your hearing starts to go:

  • You can’t hear as well: With less sound input, your auditory cortex (the part of your brain that deals with all things hearing-related) gets diminished stimulation. Your brain might end up changing in a way that makes it prioritize other senses like sight. These changes have been linked to a higher danger of mental decline.
  • You don’t go out as much: Neglected hearing loss can cause some people to self-isolate in a detrimental way. Staying in to steer clear of conversations might seem easier than going out and feeling self-conscious (particularly as your untreated hearing loss progresses). This can rob your brain of even more input.

These two things, when put together, can cause your brain to change in major ways. Memory loss, problems concentrating, and eventually an increased danger of dementia have been connected to this type of cognitive decline.

Is Cognitive Decline Reversable With Hearing Aids?

So, this mental decline happens because your hearing loss is going untreated. And it’s fairly obvious what needs to be done to reverse these declines: have your hearing impairment treated. In most cases, this means new hearing aids.

The degree to which hearing aids can slow cognitive decline is both unexpected and well-substantiated. Approximately 100 people with hearing loss from the age of 62 to age 82 were interviewed by the University of Melbourne. Among those adults who wore their hearing aids for at least 18 months, over 97% revealed that their mental decline either stabilized or reversed.

That’s a nearly universal improvement, simply from wearing hearing aids. We can learn a couple of things from this:

  • Finding ways to keep your auditory cortex active would be beneficial because stimulation is essential to mental health. As long as you keep hearing (with the assistance of hearing aids), this vital region of your brain will continue to be stimulated, active, and healthy.
  • Helping you remain social is one of the primary functions of any set of hearing aids. And the more social you are, the more involved your brain remains. When you can hear conversations it’s much more fun to talk with your friends.

Sudoko is Still a Good Idea

This new study from the University of Melbourne isn’t the only one of it’s kind. If you have neglected hearing loss, many studies have demonstrated that wearing hearing aids can help slow down cognitive decline. The dilemma is that not everyone recognizes that they have hearing loss. The symptoms can sneak up on you. So if you’re feeling strained, forgetful, or even a little spacier than normal, it may be worth talking with your hearing specialist.

That hearing aids are so effective doesn’t necessarily mean you should give up on your Sudoku or other brain games. They keep your brain refreshed and pliable and give you stronger overall cognitive function. Both hearing aids and Sudoku can help you exercise your brain and keep yourself mentally fit.

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The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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