Want to suck all the joy out of your next family get-together? Start to talk about dementia.
Dementia is not a subject most people are actively looking to discuss, mainly because it’s pretty frightening. A degenerative cognitive disease in which you gradually (or, more frighteningly, quickly) lose your cognitive faculties, dementia causes you to lose touch with reality, go through mood swings, and have memory issues. No one wants to go through that.
For this reason, many people are looking for a way to counter, or at least slow, the advancement of dementia. It turns out, untreated hearing loss and dementia have several fairly clear connections and correlations.>
That may seem a bit… surprising to you. After all, what does your brain have to do with your ears (a lot, actually)? Why does hearing loss raise chances of dementia?>
What happens when your hearing impairment is neglected?
You recognize that you’re starting to lose your hearing, but it’s not at the top of your list of worries. You can just turn up the volume, right? Maybe, when you watch your favorite program, you’ll just put on the captions.
But then again, perhaps you haven’t noticed your hearing loss yet. Maybe the signs are still subtle. Mental decline and hearing loss are strongly linked either way. That’s because of the effects of neglected hearing loss.
- Conversation becomes more difficult to understand. You could start to keep yourself isolated from others as a result of this. You can withdraw from family, friends, and loved ones. You speak to others less. This type of social separation is, well, bad for your brain. It’s not good for your social life either. Further, most people who have this type of isolation won’t even recognize that hearing loss is the cause.
- Your brain will be working harder. When you have neglected hearing loss, your ears don’t pick up nearly as much audio information (this is kind of obvious, yes, but stay with us). This will leave your brain filling in the missing info. This is incredibly taxing. Your brain will then have to get extra power from your memory and thought centers (at least that’s the present theory). It’s thought that this could quicken the development of cognitive decline. Your brain working so hard can also cause all manner of other symptoms, such as mental stress and exhaustion.
So your hearing impairment is not quite as harmless as you might have believed.
One of the principal signs of dementia is hearing loss
Perhaps your hearing loss is slight. Like, you can’t hear whispers, but everything else sounds just fine. Well, even with that, your chance of getting dementia is doubled.
So one of the initial signs of dementia can be even mild hearing loss.
So… How should we interpret this?
We’re looking at risk in this circumstance which is relevant to note. Hearing loss is not a guarantee of dementia or even an early symptom of dementia. Rather, it simply means you have a higher chance of developing dementia or experiencing cognitive decline later in life. But there might be an upside.
Your risk of cognitive decline is lowered by successfully managing your hearing loss. So how do you manage your hearing loss? Here are a few ways:
- Wearing a hearing aid can help minimize the impact of hearing loss. So, can dementia be avoided by wearing hearing aids? That’s difficult to say, but hearing aids can enhance brain function. This is the reason why: You’ll be more socially involved and your brain won’t have to work so hard to carry on conversations. Your risk of developing dementia in the future is reduced by treating hearing loss, research implies. It won’t prevent dementia but we can still call it a win.
- Make an appointment with us to diagnose your present hearing loss.
- You can take some steps to protect your hearing from further harm if you detect your hearing loss soon enough. You could, for instance, use ear protection if you work in a loud setting and avoid noisy events such as concerts or sporting events.
Other ways to lower your dementia risk
You can decrease your risk of cognitive decline by doing some other things as well, of course. This could include:
- A diet that helps you maintain a healthy blood pressure and is good for your overall can go a long way. Sometimes, medication can help here, some individuals simply have naturally higher blood pressure; those individuals may need medication sooner rather than later.
- Get some exercise.
- Quit smoking. Seriously. Smoking will increase your risk of dementia as well as impacting your general health (excessive alcohol use can also go on this list).
- Getting enough sleep at night is crucial. Some research links an increased risk of dementia to getting fewer than four hours of sleep each night.
The connection between lifestyle, hearing loss, and dementia is still being researched by scientists. It’s a complicated disease with a matrix of causes. But the lower your risk, the better.
Hearing is its own benefit
So, over time, hearing better will reduce your general risk of dementia. But it’s not only your future golden years you’ll be improving, it’s right now. Imagine, no more missed conversations, no more muffled misunderstandings, no more quiet and lonely trips to the grocery store.
Missing out on the important things in life stinks. And taking steps to control your hearing loss, perhaps by using hearing aids, can be a big help.
So call us today for an appointment.