Hearing Solutions

Hearing Aids Mitigate Cognitive Decline in Older People

This is Simple to Imagine

It is not alarmist, but perfectly realistic to call the consequences of not treating hearing loss extreme. Many people fail to recognize that they are even suffering from hearing loss until they are well on their way to enduring its accelerating and compounding consequences.

When you first begin to recognize hearing loss, but have not yet come to understand or accept exactly what is happening, it can be a deeply disturbing time. You may think that your hearing is perfectly fine, because when you are in a controlled environment such as your home and you are talking with someone one-on-one, looking directly at them, your hearing seems to be perfectly fine. But we do not live in completely controlled environments.

Once you are out in public somewhere with loud background noise, or you are talking with two or more people at once, that is when your hearing loss first makes its effects known. You may have trouble following conversations. This of course causes confusion and frustration. Your brain is quite literally working overtime, committing more of its energies than ever before to just simply keeping up with what is going on.

So when you intuitively decide to start skipping social occasions because their benefits cannot compensate for the cost of their troubles, of course you begin to feel a little lonely. Loneliness leads to depression. And anyone who has ever endured depression can attest that depression quickly spirals into a feedback loop of compounding side effects. When you feel depressed, you feel powerless to overcome the depression. This sense of powerlessness often provokes people to act out and behave erratically in clumsy attempts to regain a sense of control. Though of course such actions always backfire, just making you feel more isolated.

All this clearly demonstrates just how predictably disabling hearing loss leads to cognitive impairment. But this predictable course does not even include the other factor that contributes and practically guarantees fate.

Our hearing depends on the precise functioning of the many minuscule hairs within our inner ears that work like antennas. Sound waves cause them to vibrate against our eardrums, which then trigger the signal to send to our brains to decode. All of these incredibly complex processes usually happen with incredible precision and nearly instantaneously. But hearing loss is a result of injury to these tiny hairs. When they are injured, this is irreversible and permanent. And the accuracy of your hearing is affected in corresponding degree to the amount of damage the hairs have suffered. When they are injured, they require your brain to literally rewire the circuits and neural pathways that they have always before used to comprehend and decode audio signals. Such rewiring causes your brain to use more energy in ways that you are not even recognizing, causing you to fatigue and perpetuate the cycles of cognitive decline.

Just How Common Is Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is an invisible disability. You cannot see that someone has hearing loss simply by looking at them. And only one out of every 1,000 births in the US involve some detectable degree of congenital hearing loss. These are among the primary reasons why people may not know that hearing loss is as common as it truly is. Researchers estimate that over 14% of the adult population of the US lives with it to some degree. This percentage increases with age, so that by the time we are considering those aged 75 and above, more than half of everyone will have hearing loss. But hearing loss is not just another superficial quality of old age like gray hairs or wrinkles. As outlined above, left untreated, hearing loss can have devastating consequences.

Seeking Help 

Would it shock you to learn that hardly 20% of people who should be using hearing aids do so? And among those people who do wear hearing aids, they have waited an average of seven years between first considering that they should do so and finally committing to it. Hearing aids will not restore your hearing to its previous health. Nothing will. But hearing aids will boost specific frequencies to increase the clarity, as well as the volume, with which you will hear.

The sooner you take action and begin to cope with your hearing loss, the sooner the potential consequences are stopped in their tracks and you have taken back control of your own life. Don’t hesitate. Make an appointment today.