Coastal Hearing Aid Center - Encinitas, CA

Image of someone with a hearing aid doing a brain game to improve cognitive ability.

Because of its simplicity, soduku is one of the world’s most popular puzzle games. Some numbers, a pencil, and a few grids are all that’s required. A very pleasant way to pass some hours, for many, is a soduku puzzle book. That it’s a workout for your brain is an added perk.

It’s becoming popular to use “brain workouts” to tackle cognitive decline. But Sudoku isn’t the only method of delaying cognitive recession. Sometimes, your brain requires a boost in mental activation and research has shown that hearing aids might be capable of filling that role.

What is Cognitive Decline?

Your brain is a “use it or lose it” organ. Neural connections will fizzle without proper stimulation. That’s why Sudoku has a tendency to keep you mentally active: it forces your brain to think, to creatively forge and reinforce numerous neural pathways.

While a certain amount of mental decline is a normal process associated with aging, there are some factors that can hasten or worsen that decline. A particularly formidable hazard for your mental health, as an example, is hearing loss. Two things happen that powerfully affect your brain when your hearing begins to go:

  • You hear less: There is less sound going in to activate your auditory cortex (the hearing focus of the brain). This can cause alterations to your brain (in some situations, for example, your brain begins to prioritize visual information; but that isn’t true for everybody). These changes have been connected to a higher risk of cognitive decline.
  • You go out less: Self isolation is a very detrimental behavior, but that’s exactly what some individuals do when they have hearing loss. As your hearing loss increases, it may just seem simpler to stay inside to escape conversation. But this is a bad idea as it can rob your brain of that needed stimulation.

These two factors, when combined, can cause your brain to change in major ways. This cognitive decline has frequently been connected to memory loss, trouble concentrating, and (over time) increased risk of mental disorders like dementia.

Can Hearing Aids Reverse Declines?

So, this cognitive decline takes place because your hearing loss is going untreated. And it’s pretty obvious what needs to be done to reverse these declines: get your hearing loss treated. Normally, this means new hearing aids.

The degree to which hearing aids can slow cognitive decline is both unexpected and well-corroborated. Researchers at the University of Melbourne surveyed approximately 100 adults between the ages of 62-82, all of whom had some kind of hearing loss. Among those adults who used their hearing aids for at least 18 months, over 97% said that their mental decline either stabilized or reversed.

Just wearing hearing aids resulted in a nearly universal improvement. That tells us a couple of things:

  • Helping you continue to be social is one of the primary functions of any set of hearing aids. And the more social you are, the more engaged your brain remains. It’s easier (and more enjoyable) to hang with your friends when you can follow the conversation!
  • Stimulation is integral to your mental health, so that means anything that keeps your auditory cortex active when it otherwise wouldn’t be, is most likely beneficial. This region of your brain will continue to be healthy and vital as long as you keep hearing ( with help from hearing aids).

Sudoko is Still a Smart Idea

This new study out of the University of Melbourne isn’t an outlier. If you have neglected hearing loss, many studies have revealed that using hearing aids can help slow mental decline. The issue is that not everybody recognizes that they have hearing loss. The symptoms can sneak up on you. So it’s worth making an appointment with your hearing specialist if you’ve been feeling a bit spacey, forgetful, or strained.

That hearing aids are so effective doesn’t necessarily mean you should give up on your Sudoku or other brain games. Keeping your brain nimble and involved in numerous different ways can help expand the total cognitive strength of your executive functions. Both hearing aids and Sudoku can help you exercise your brain and keep yourself mentally fit.

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The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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