Want to take all the joy out of your next family gathering? Start talking about dementia.
The subject of dementia can be very scary and most people aren’t going to go out of their way to talk about it. A degenerative mental disease in which you slowly (or, more frighteningly, quickly) lose your mental faculties, dementia causes you to lose touch with reality, go through mood swings, and have memory issues. Nobody wants to experience that.
So stopping or at least slowing dementia is a priority for many people. It turns out, neglected hearing loss and dementia have several pretty clear connections and correlations.>
You might be surprised by that. What does your brain have to do with your ears after all? Why does hearing loss raise chances of dementia?>
When you disregard hearing loss, what are the consequences?
You recognize that you’re beginning to lose your hearing, but it’s not at the top of your list of concerns. You can just turn up the volume, right? Maybe you’ll simply turn on the captions when you’re watching your favorite program.
Or perhaps your hearing loss has gone unnoticed so far. Maybe the signs are still easy to ignore. Mental decline and hearing loss are firmly connected either way. That’s because of the effects of untreated hearing loss.
- Conversation becomes harder to understand. You could begin to keep yourself isolated from others as a result of this. You can withdraw from family, friends, and loved ones. You’ll talk to others less. It’s bad for your brain to isolate yourself like this. Not to mention your social life. Further, most people who have this sort of isolation won’t even know that hearing loss is the cause.
- Your brain will be working overtime. When you have untreated hearing loss, your ears don’t get nearly as much audio information (this is sort of obvious, yes, but stick with us). This will leave your brain filling in the missing info. This will really exhaust your brain. The current theory is, when this takes place, your brain pulls power from your thought and memory centers. It’s believed that this could quicken the development of cognitive decline. Mental stress and exhaustion, along with other possible symptoms, can be the outcome of your brain needing to work so hard.
So your hearing loss is not quite as harmless as you may have believed.
One of the major signs of dementia is hearing loss
Let’s say you just have slight hearing loss. Whispers might get lost, but you can hear everything else so…no problem right? Well, even with that, your risk of developing dementia is doubled.
So one of the initial indications of dementia can be even minor hearing loss.
Now… What does that mean?
Well, it’s important to remember that we’re talking about risk here. Hearing loss isn’t an early symptom of dementia and there isn’t any guarantee it will lead to dementia. It does mean that later in life you will have an increased risk of developing cognitive decline. But there might be an upside.
Your risk of dementia is decreased by effectively managing your hearing loss. So how do you manage your hearing loss? There are a number of ways:
- The impact of hearing loss can be minimized by using hearing aids. Now, can hearing aids prevent cognitive decline? That’s tough to say, but hearing aids can enhance brain function. This is why: You’ll be capable of participating in more discussions, your brain won’t have to work so hard, and you’ll be a bit more socially involved. Your risk of developing dementia later in life is minimized by managing hearing loss, research indicates. It won’t stop dementia but we can still call it a win.
- If your hearing loss is caught early, there are some measures you can take to protect your hearing. You could, for instance, use ear protection if you work in a loud setting and steer clear of noisy events such as concerts or sporting events.
- Come see us so we can help you determine any hearing loss you may have.
Other ways to decrease your dementia risk
Of course, there are other things you can do to lower your risk of cognitive decline, too. This could include:
- Eating more healthy food, especially one that helps you keep your blood pressure from going too high. Sometimes, medication can help here, some individuals just have naturally higher blood pressure; those people may need medication sooner rather than later.
- Exercise is needed for good overall health and that includes hearing health.
- Don’t smoke. Seriously. Smoking will raise your risk of cognitive decline as well as impacting your overall health (excessive alcohol drinking is also on this list).
- Make sure you get enough sleep each night. Some studies link fewer than four hours of sleep per night to an increase in the risk of dementia.
The connection between lifestyle, hearing loss, and dementia is still being researched by scientists. It’s a complex disease with an array of causes. But any way you can reduce your risk is good.
Being able to hear is its own advantage
So, hearing better will help lower your overall danger of developing cognitive decline in the future. But it isn’t only your future golden years you’ll be improving, it’s right now. Imagine, no more solitary visits to the store, no more confused conversations, no more misunderstandings.
It’s no fun losing out on life’s important moments. And taking steps to control your hearing loss, possibly by using hearing aids, can be a big help.
So make sure to schedule an appointment with us today!