- As an Invisible Condition, Hearing Loss Often Goes Ignored - October 17, 2022
- All About Assistive Listening Devices & More - October 1, 2022
- Tired of Loud Restaurants? Time for a Hearing Test! - September 17, 2022
When most people make new year’s health resolutions, it is usually to do with improving their overall cardiovascular health, or abstaining from damaging habits like smoking or drinking. Taking care of your hearing doesn’t jump out as a popular choice to focus on, but you might not realize that paying more attention to this can be beneficial to your long-term mental and cognitive health. Many people wait a long time before addressing any latent problems they have with their hearing, and it can have a cumulative effect which won’t be felt until years down the road when it is too late to do anything about it. This year, schedule an annual hearing test.
The benefits of treating hearing loss early on
Few people will regret addressing their hearing loss earlier rather than later. Hearing aid users often report an immediate improvement in their everyday quality of life. They can talk on the phone again. They can meet friends in noisy cafes without feeling overwhelmed by the atmosphere. They catch each joke, piece of gossip, and line of banter from friends over the dinner table.
But the biggest benefits could be long term. Studies have shown that hearing aids lead to improvements in cognition and mental health, and a reduction in dementia. Let’s look at each one in turn.
Recent studies conducted by the Brandeis University Neuroscience department found that not addressing hearing loss has a detrimental effect on high level cognitive functioning. Sufferers find it harder to process things that they hear in the brain. This makes it harder for them to focus on tasks that are more mentally demanding. They proved this on tests where those with hearing loss performed worse than those with normal hearing on cognition tests. To explain why this happened, the authors point out that increases in ‘cognitive load’ among those with hearing loss divert resources away from memory resources in the brain.
A different study found improvements for hearing aids users in cognition. Researchers from The University of Texas at El Paso gave hearing aids to older people with hearing loss who had never used hearing aids before. They then tested them on memory recall and found the users had improved speed and performance following adoption of the hearing aids.
More and more studies are coming out which point to a link between dementia and hearing loss. The most high-profile study was released as part of World Hearing Day in 2018, in which a longitudinal study conducted in France over 25 years discovered an increased risk of dementia among adults with hearing loss, as well as an increased propensity for males to develop depression.
The same year, another paper by the University of Manchester proclaimed that a hearing aid can slow the march of dementia by an amazing 75 percent! It’s clear that taking control of your hearing can have significantly reduce your chances of developing dementia.
You might also be making a positive impact on your mental health with hearing aids. A recent paper from Johns Hopkins University claims that older people with hearing loss are 57 percent more likely to have a depressive episode than those with normal hearing.
An explanation for this could be that people with hearing loss are more likely to stay at home and avoid attending social functions in bars, restaurants, cafes or anywhere else where a group of people gather. Shutting yourself off is the surest way to strain family, friend and romantic connections. This could lead to a cycle of loneliness and social isolation where more serious mental health issues have a chance to foment.
But the benefit of a hearing aid is that the user can attend those social occasions again, as many devices come equipped with technologies that help the wearer hear better in noisy environments. And the time has never been better to wear one – hearing aids are smaller, more discreet and more technologically advanced than ever before. So, the sooner you identify any potential hearing loss and start using hearing aids, the sooner you’ll begin to see the benefits of hearing more clearly.
Are you willing to make 2019 the year you act on hearing loss? Schedule an annual test with Encore Hearing today!