Want to take all the joy out of your next family get-together? Start talking about dementia.
The subject of dementia can be very scary and most people aren’t going to purposely talk about it. Dementia, which is a degenerative cognitive condition, makes you lose a grip on reality, experience loss of memory, and causes an over-all loss of mental function. It isn’t something anybody looks forward to.
This is why many individuals are seeking a way to prevent, or at least slow, the advancement of dementia. It turns out, neglected hearing loss and dementia have some pretty clear connections and correlations.>
You may be surprised by that. After all, what does your brain have to do with your ears (lots, it turns out)? Why does hearing loss raise the risk of dementia?>
What takes place when your hearing loss goes untreated?
You recognize that you’re beginning to lose your hearing, but it isn’t at the top of your list of concerns. It’s nothing that cranking up the volume on your tv won’t solve, right? Maybe, when you watch your favorite show, you’ll just turn on the captions.
Or maybe your hearing loss has gone unobserved so far. Maybe the signs are still subtle. Cognitive decline and hearing impairment are firmly connected either way. That might have something to do with what occurs when you have neglected hearing loss.
- Conversation becomes harder to understand. You could start to keep yourself isolated from others because of this. You can draw away from friends, family, and loved ones. You won’t talk with people as often. It’s bad for your brain to isolate yourself this way. And naturally your social life. Additionally, many people who experience hearing loss-related social isolation don’t even realize it’s happening, and they most likely won’t attribute their isolation to their hearing.
- Your brain will be working harder. When you have untreated hearing loss, your ears don’t get nearly as much audio information (this is kind of obvious, yes, but stay with us). Because of this, your brain will attempt to fill in the gaps. This will really exhaust your brain. Your brain will then need to get additional energy from your memory and thought centers (at least that’s the current concept). It’s thought that this might hasten the development of cognitive decline. Mental fatigue and exhaustion, as well as other possible symptoms, can be the result of your brain having to work so hard.
You might have suspected that your hearing loss was more innocuous than it really is.
Hearing loss is one of the primary signs of dementia
Perhaps your hearing loss is slight. Like, you’re unable to hear whispers, but everything else is normal. Well, turns out you’re still twice as likely to get dementia as someone who doesn’t have hearing loss.
Meaning that even minor hearing loss is a pretty good preliminary sign of a risk of dementia.
So… How should we interpret this?
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 lead to dementia. It does mean that later in life you will have a higher chance of developing cognitive decline. But that could actually be good news.
Your risk of dementia is reduced by effectively dealing with your hearing loss. So how can you deal with your hearing loss? Here are a few ways:
- Come see us so we can help you identify any hearing loss you might have.
- The affect of hearing loss can be decreased by wearing hearing aids. So, can dementia be stopped by wearing hearing aids? That’s hard to say, but hearing aids can improve brain function. Here’s why: You’ll be capable of participating in more discussions, your brain won’t need to work so hard, and you’ll be a little more socially involved. Research suggests that treating hearing loss can help reduce your danger of developing dementia when you get older. That isn’t the same as stopping dementia, but it’s a good thing regardless.
- You can take some steps to protect your hearing from further damage if you catch your hearing loss soon enough. For example, you could stay away from noisy events (like concerts or sports games) or use hearing protection when you’re near anything noisy (for example, if you work with heavy machinery).
Other ways to lower your dementia risk
You can minimize your risk of dementia by doing some other things too, of course. This could include:
- Exercise is necessary for good general health and that includes hearing health.
- Stop smoking. Seriously. Smoking will raise your chance of dementia as well as impacting your overall health (excess alcohol use is also on this list).
- A diet that keeps your blood pressure down and is generally healthy can go a long way. Sometimes, medication can help here, some people just have naturally higher blood pressure; those individuals could need medication sooner rather than later.
- Getting adequate sleep at night is essential. There are studies that link fewer than four hours of sleep every night to a higher risk of dementia.
The link between lifestyle, hearing loss, and dementia is still being researched by scientists. There are a multitude of causes that make this disease so complex. But any way you can reduce your risk is good.
Hearing is its own benefit
So, hearing better will help lower your overall risk of developing cognitive decline in the future. But it’s not only your future golden years you’ll be improving, it’s today. Imagine, no more missed discussions, no more muffled misunderstandings, no more quiet and lonely trips to the grocery store.
It’s no fun missing out on life’s important moments. And taking steps to control your hearing loss, maybe by using hearing aids, can be really helpful.
So make sure to schedule an appointment with us today!