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It is essential to realize that hearing loss is not just a problem for your ears. In addition to the increased risk of injuries, falling, and hospitalization caused by a lack of hearing loss, it can significantly impact your mental health.
Hearing loss, depression, and dementia
Researchers established a correlation between hearing loss, depression, and dementia in a study at Michigan University. All three are common amongst the older adults, and the study wanted to see how they were connected.
They looked at over 115,000 Americans with hearing loss over the age of sixty-six. Some had hearing aids for their hearing loss, and others had untreated hearing loss. The researchers analyzed data from the year before each participant’s hearing loss. For the following four years, they analyzed each participant’s propensity to gauge whether they were at risk of depression or dementia.
The researchers found that untreated hearing loss raises the risk of both depression and dementia as you get older. In the years after getting their hearing loss diagnosed, individuals with untreated hearing loss were more likely to be diagnosed with depression or anxiety. They also had a lot higher dementia rates than people without hearing loss.
This supports additional research there on the effects of hearing loss on the two conditions.
- Depression: In a recent study by the National Council on Aging, researchers investigated over 2,300 people with hearing loss. They found that 50% more people were at risk for depression with hearing loss. Indeed, they reported that seniors with untreated hearing loss had feelings of sadness and depression for two weeks or longer.
- Cognitive decline: Some studies demonstrated a risk of increased cognitive disorders (including dementia) due to hearing loss. The reason behind this relationship is not apparent. However, one theory is that a loss of hearing creates cognitive stress in the brain, which diverts resources from other areas of the brain.
The risks of depression and hearing loss
A 2014 report on hearing loss and mental health showed that the risk of mental illness was highest for adults aged 18-69 with untreated hearing loss. The authors of the study found that, as long as people do not recognize their hearing loss, they are more likely to have mental health problems.
Mental health influences every part of our physical health. Our attention and determination suffer while we suffer from depression, anxiety, and sleeplessness. Social situations are avoided, and we gradually lose meaningful contact with those we love.
Not only that but the mental challenges associated with hearing loss become harder to dislodge once they have been established. This makes it even more critical that hearing loss is treated early.
Identifying hearing loss can be a difficult problem since it slowly develops. People aren’t usually aware that they have any hearing loss until a friend or family member points it out. Although the most common cause is age-related hearing loss, it may begin at any age because of a wide variety of causes.
The benefits of hearing aids
The good news is that wearing a quality hearing aid can minimize your risk of experiencing depression and cognitive decline.
You will be able to understand and contribute during conversations with your loved ones. The ability to hear clearly and connect easily is invaluable for maintaining the all-important social connections needed to maintain your mental health.
The mental effort expended when not using hearing aids to listen and understand can be exhausting. When using hearing aids, properly installed by a hearing professional, you can experience much less of this and have the energy to maintain social contact for longer.
Hearing aids, as such, will make us feel happier, more independent, and socially more engaged. With quality hearing aids that complement your hearing needs, you can hear when you most need it. You will be chatting and talking on the phone, enjoying outdoor activities, and be able to hear the television.