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

Sudoku is a global, popular puzzle game, in large part because of its simplicity. All you need in order to play is some grids, a pencil, and some numbers. For many individuals, a Sudoku puzzle book is a pleasant way to pass the hours. It’s an additional bonus that it’s good for your brain.

It’s become popular to use “brain workouts” to deal with mental decline. But Sudoku isn’t the only way to delay cognitive recession. At times, your brain requires a boost in mental activation and research has revealed that hearing aids might be able to fill that role.

Cognitive Decline, What is it?

Your brain is a “use it or lose it” organ. Without stimulation, neural pathways will fizzle. That’s the reason why Sudoku has a tendency to keep you mentally active: it forces your brain to think, to creatively forge and reinforce a plethora of neural pathways.

There are a few things that will hasten the process that would be an ordinary amount of cognitive decline associated with aging. Hearing loss, for instance, can provide a really potent risk for your mental health. Two things occur that powerfully impact your brain when your hearing starts to go:

  • You can’t hear as well: There is less sound going in to stimulate your auditory cortex (the hearing center of the brain). Your brain might end up changing in a way that causes it to prioritize other senses like sight. These changes have been linked to an increased danger of mental decline.
  • You go out less: Untreated hearing loss can cause some individuals to self-isolate in a detrimental way. Staying in to escape conversations may seem simpler than going out and feeling self-conscious (specifically as your untreated hearing loss worsens). This can rob your brain of even more input.

Combined, these two factors can be the cause of a significant change in your brain. This mental decline has often been linked to memory loss, difficulty concentrating, and (in the long term) greater risk of mental disorders like dementia.

Will Hearing Aids Reverse Declines?

So if your hearing loss is neglected, this type of mental decline can be the result. This means that the number one way to reverse those declines is fairly obvious: treat your hearing impairment! For the majority of people with hearing loss, that means a shiny new pair of properly-calibrated hearing aids.

It’s well substantiated and also surprising the degree that hearing aids can delay mental decline. Scientists at the University of Melbourne surveyed around 100 adults between the ages of 62-82, all of whom had some form of hearing loss. Over 97% of those adults who used their hearing aids for at least 18 months reported a stabilization or even reversal of that cognitive decline.

Just wearing hearing aids resulted in a nearly universal improvement. We can learn a couple of things from this:

  • One of the main functions of hearing aids is to help you stay social. And your brain stays more involved when you stay social. When you can hear conversations it’s a lot more fun to spend time with your friends.
  • Stimulation is integral to your mental health, so that means anything that keeps your auditory cortex active when it otherwise wouldn’t be, is probably beneficial. As long as you keep hearing (with the assistance of hearing aids), this essential region of your brain will remain stimulated, dynamic, and healthy.

Doesn’t Mean Sudoku is a Bad Idea

The University of Melbourne study isn’t the only one of it’s kind. Study after study seems to back the notion that hearing aids can help slow mental decline, particularly when that decline would be hastened by untreated hearing loss. The problem is that not everybody knows that they have hearing loss. You may not even notice the early symptoms. So it’s worth scheduling an appointment with your hearing specialist if you’ve been feeling a little spacey, forgetful, or strained.

You should still keep doing Sudoko and other brain games. Keeping your brain agile and engaged in numerous different ways can help broaden the total cognitive strength of your executive functions. Working your brain out and keeping mentally fit can be assisted by both hearing aids and brain games.

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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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