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

Because it’s simple, soduku is a globally popular puzzle game. All you require in order to play is some grids, some numbers, and a pencil. 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 additional perk.

It’s become popular to use “brain workouts” to tackle mental decline. But there are other methods of slowing down mental decline. At times, your brain requires a boost in mental activation and research has revealed that hearing aids might be capable of filling that role.

What is Cognitive Decline?

Your brain is a “use it or lose it” organ. Without stimulation, neural connections tend to fizzle. Your brain needs to forge and strengthen neural pathways, that’s why Sudoku works, it keeps you mentally active.

While some mental decline is a normal part of aging, there are some factors that can speed up or exacerbate that decline. A really potent hazard for your cognitive health, as an example, is hearing loss. When your hearing begins to decline, two things occur that really affect your brain:

  • You can’t hear as well: When you have less sound input, your auditory cortex (the region of your brain responsible for all things related to hearing) receives reduced stimulation. This can cause alterations to your brain (in some circumstances, for instance, your brain begins to prioritize visual stimuli; but that’s not true for everybody). Increased danger of mental decline has been associated with these changes.
  • You go out less: Untreated hearing loss can cause some individuals to self-isolate in an unhealthy way. As your hearing loss increases, it may just seem easier to stay inside to escape conversation. This can rob your brain of even more stimulation.

These two things, when combined, can cause your brain to change in major ways. This cognitive decline has commonly been connected to memory loss, trouble concentrating, and (in the long term) greater risk of mental illness like dementia.

Will Hearing Aids Reverse Declines?

So if your hearing loss is neglected, this type of cognitive decline can be the outcome. This means that the number one way to reverse those declines is pretty clear: address your hearing loss! For most people with hearing loss, that means a brand new pair of well-calibrated hearing aids.

The amount that hearing aids can slow mental decline is both unexpected and well-substantiated. Experts at the University of Melbourne surveyed about 100 adults between the ages of 62-82, all of whom had some form of hearing loss. Over 97% of those adults who wore their hearing aids for at least 18 months reported a stabilization or even reversal of that mental decline.

That’s an almost universal improvement, just from wearing hearing aids. That tells us a couple of things:

  • Helping you remain social is one of the key functions of any pair of hearing aids. And your brain remains more involved when you stay social. When you can follow conversations it’s a lot more fun to socialize with your friends.
  • Finding ways to activate your auditory cortex would be helpful because stimulation is essential to mental health. As long as you keep hearing (assisted by hearing aids), this essential area of your brain will remain stimulated, dynamic, and healthy.

Doesn’t Mean Sudoku is a Bad Idea

The University of Melbourne study isn’t an outlier. If you have untreated hearing loss, countless studies have revealed that using hearing aids can help decrease cognitive decline. The problem is that not everybody knows 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 little forgetful, spacey, or strained.

You should still keep doing Sudoko and other brain games. Keeping your brain nimble and involved in a number of different ways can help broaden the overall 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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