Sudoku is one of the most popular puzzle games in the world, largely because of its simplicity. All you require in order to play is some grids, some numbers, and a pencil. For many, a Sudoku puzzle book is a relaxing way to pass the hours. It’s an additional perk that it’s good for your brain.
“Brain workouts” are becoming a popular way of addressing cognitive decline. But there are other methods of slowing mental decline. At times, your brain requires a boost in mental stimulation and research has shown that hearing aids might be capable of filling that role.
Cognitive Decline, What is it?
Your brain has a truly use-it-or-lose-it disposition. Without stimulus, neural pathways will fizzle out. Your brain needs to forge and reinforce neural pathways, that’s the reason why Sudoku works, it keeps you mentally active.
There are a few things that will hasten the process that would be a normal amount of mental decline connected with the aging process. An especially formidable danger for your mental health, for instance, is hearing loss. When your hearing begins to diminish, two things occur that really impact your brain:
- You can’t hear as well: There’s not as much sound going in to stimulate your auditory cortex (the hearing center of the brain). This can cause changes in your brain (in some cases, for example, your brain starts to prioritize visual information; but that’s not true for everyone). A higher danger of mental decline has been linked to these changes.
- You go out less: Self isolation is a very unhealthy behavior, but that’s exactly what some individuals do when they have hearing loss. Staying in to avoid conversations may seem easier than going out and feeling self-conscious (especially as your neglected hearing loss worsens). This can deprive your brain of even more stimulation.
These two things, when combined, can cause your brain to change in major ways. This cognitive decline has often been linked to loss of memory, trouble concentrating, and (in the long term) increased danger of mental illness such as dementia.
Will Hearing Aids Reverse Declines?
So if your hearing loss is ignored, this type of mental decline can be the result. This means that the best way to treat those declines is fairly obvious: address your hearing loss! For the majority of people with hearing loss, that means a shiny new pair of properly-calibrated hearing aids.
It’s well substantiated and also surprising the extent that hearing aids can delay cognitive decline. Around 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, more than 97% revealed that their mental decline either stabilized or reversed.
That’s an almost universal improvement, simply from using hearing aids. That tells us a couple of things:
- Stimulation is integral to your mental health, so that means anything that helps your auditory cortex stay active when it normally wouldn’t be, is probably advantageous. This area of your brain will stay vital and healthy as long as you continue to hear ( with assistance from hearing aids).
- One of the main functions of hearing aids is to help you stay social. And your brain remains more involved when you stay social. It’s easier (and more enjoyable) to talk with your friends when you can follow the conversation!
Doesn’t Mean Sudoku is a Bad Idea
The University of Melbourne study isn’t the only one of it’s kind. If you have neglected hearing loss, many studies have demonstrated that using hearing aids can help decrease cognitive decline. But many individuals have hearing loss and just aren’t aware of it. The symptoms can sneak up on you. So if you’re feeling forgetful, strained, or even a bit spacier than normal, it may be worth talking with your hearing specialist.
That hearing aids are so successful doesn’t automatically mean you should quit doing Sudoku or other brain games. They keep your brain fresh and pliable and give you stronger overall cognitive function. Working your brain out and staying cognitively fit can be helped by both hearing aids and brain games.