HEARING TIPS

Why Hearing Aids Are Necessary For Independent Living

Woman with hearing loss happy to have her freedom and independence while riding in a convertible.

Remember getting your first car? Nothing can be compared to that sense of freedom. At any moment you could reach out to some friends and go wherever you wanted. For many people, getting their first hearing aids is a lot like that feeling.

How could investing in your first set of hearing aids be similar to getting your first car? There are some subtle reasons why using hearing aids will help you make sure you don’t lose your independence. Come to find out, your hearing has a powerful effect on your brain’s functionality.

Neuroplasticity

To demonstrate how well your brain will react to change, consider this: Following the same way as you always have, you set off for work. As you go to make that first right you find that there is a road-block. How would you react? Is quitting and going home an option? Unless of course you’re searching for a reason to not go to work, most likely not. You would most likely immediately seek an alternate way to go. As long as your regular route was closed this new route would become your new everyday routine. If the new route ended up being even more efficient, you would replace the old one with it.

In your brain, when normal functions are not working the very same thing happens. The brain sends its processing along with alternative pathways, and this re-routing process is called neuroplasticity.

Neuroplasticity can help you master a new language, or to learn new skills such as drawing or painting or developing healthy habits. Little by little, the physical changes in the brain adjust to match the new paths and once-challenging tasks become automatic. Neuroplasticity can be equally as good at causing you to forget things you already know as it is at assisting you in learning new things.

Hearing Loss And Neuroplasticity

A perfect example of how neuroplasticity can have a negative impact is hearing loss. As explained in The Hearing Review, scientists at the University of Colorado discovered that even in the early development of loss of hearing, if your brain stops working on processing sounds, it will be re-purposed for something else. And it may not be ideal for them to change in that way. The connection between loss of hearing and cognitive decline can be explained by this.

The areas of your brain that are responsible for hearing will get re-purposed for other functions such as vision and touch. This decreases the brain’s available resources for processing sound, and it impairs our capacity to understand speech.

So, if you are repeatedly asking people to speak up, hearing loss has already begun. And even more significant is the reality that your brain may already be beginning to restructure.

How Hearing Aids Can Help You

As with most things, you get both a negative and positive angle to this astonishing ability. Neuroplasticity may make your hearing loss worse, but it also improves the performance of hearing aids. Thanks to your brain’s talent of regenerating tissue and to reroute neural paths, you can maximize the technology inside your ear. Since the hearing aids activate the parts of the brain that regulate hearing loss, they encourage mental growth and development.

The American Geriatrics Society published a long term study, in fact. It found that wearing a set of hearing aids lessened cognitive decline in people with hearing loss. The study, titled Self-Reported Hearing Loss: Hearing Aids and Cognitive Decline in Elderly Adults: A 25-year Study, followed over three thousand adults over the age of 65. What the scientists found was that the speed of cognitive decline was higher in those with hearing loss compared to those with healthy hearing. However, participants that used hearing aids to correct their hearing loss displayed no difference in the rate of cognitive decline compared to those with normal hearing.

The most useful part of this study is that we can verify what we already understand about neuroplasticity: the brain will manage functions according to the current need and the amount of stimulus it receives. To put it another way, you need to, “use it or lose it.”

Retaining a Young Brain

The brain is powerful and can change itself at any time regardless of what your age is. You should also take into consideration that hearing loss can speed up mental decline and that simple hearing aids can stop or reduce this decline.

Hearing aids are not cheap over-the-counter amplification devices, they are high-tech hearing enhancement technology. According to leading brain plasticity expert Dr. Michael Merzenich, by pushing yourself to engage in new activities, being active socially, and perhaps practicing mindfulness you can increase your brain’s performance regardless of your age is.

Hearing aids are a crucial part of guaranteeing your quality of life. People who have loss of hearing often become withdrawn or isolated. You can be sure to remain active and independent by investing in a pair of hearing aids. Keep in mind that if you want your brain to stay as young as you feel it needs to continue processing sound and receiving stimulation.

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