HEARING TIPS

Hearing Aids Can Restore Your Independence if You Have Hearing Loss

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

Remember when you got your very first car? How great was that feeling of freedom? It was your choice when and where you went and with who you hung out with. Many people with loss of hearing have this same type of experience when they invest in their first pair of hearing aids.

How could investing in your first set of hearing aids be like getting your first car? Although there are obvious benefits to hearing better, there are some less obvious ones that will help you keep your independence. It so happens that your brain’s functionality is profoundly affected by hearing loss.

Neuroplasticity

To illustrate how efficiently your brain can react to change, consider this: You’re on the way to your job, taking the same way you always take. You soon find that there is an car accident stopping you from going through. What is your response to this problem? Is quitting and going home a good decision? Unless you’re searching for an excuse to not go to work, most likely not. More than likely, you’ll use an alternate route. For as long as your regular route was closed this new route would turn into your new routine. If the new route ended up being even more efficient, you would replace the old one with it.

Inside your brain, when normal functions are not working the very same thing happens. The name neuroplasticity defines the brain’s process of rerouting along alternative pathways.

Neuroplasticity can help you master new languages, or in learning new skills such as juggling or forming healthy habits. Slowly, the physical changes to the brain adapt to match the new paths and tasks that were once challenging become automatic. Neuroplasticity can be just as good at making you forget things you already know as it is at assisting you in learning new skills.

Neuroplasticity And Loss of Hearing

Hearing loss is the perfect example of how neuroplasticity has a negative impact on your day-to-day life. As explained in The Hearing Review, The pathways in your brain will immediately start to be re-purposed if they quit processing sound according to a report done by the University of Colorado. This is something you may not want it to be doing. This reorganization of your brain’s function clarifies the connection between loss of hearing and cognitive decline.

When you have hearing loss, the parts of your brain responsible for functions, including vision or touch, can take over the less-utilized pathways of the brain responsible for hearing. This diminishes the brain’s available resources for processing sound, and it impairs our capacity to understand speech.

So, if you find yourself saying “what was that?” frequently, you already have loss of hearing. What’s more, it might be a more significant problem than injury to your inner ear, it’s possible that the untreated hearing loss has induced your brain structure to change.

Can Hearing Aids Help You

This ability of the brain has an upside and a downside. Neuroplasticity will probably make your hearing loss worse, but it also improves the overall performance of hearing aids. You can definitely make the most of advanced hearing aid technology thanks to your brain’s amazing ability to regenerate tissue and reroute neural pathways. As the hearing aids stimulate the parts of the brain that handle loss of hearing, they encourage mental growth and development.

As a matter of fact, a long-term study was published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. Cognitive decline was reduced in people with hearing aids, according to this study. The study, titled Self-Reported Hearing Loss: Hearing Aids and Cognitive Decline in Elderly Adults: A 25-year Study, observed over three thousand adults age 65 and older through a 25 year period. The study showed that people with hearing loss had a higher rate of cognitive decline. However, participants that used hearing aids to correct their hearing loss displayed no difference in the rate of cognitive decline as compared to those with normal hearing.

We already knew quite a bit about neuroplasticity and this study verifies that knowledge: if you don’t use it you will end up losing it because the brain organizes its functions according to the amount of stimulation it receives and the need at hand.”

Having a Youthful Brain

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

Hearing aids are high-tech hearing enhancement technology, not just over-the-counter amplifiers. According to leading brain plasticity expert Dr. Michael Merzenich, by pushing yourself with new activities, being socially active, and maybe even practicing mindfulness you can help improve your brain’s performance regardless of your age is.

To guarantee your quality of life, hearing aids are a must. Becoming isolated and withdrawn is a common problem for people with hearing loss. If you want to stay active and independent, invest in a pair of hearing aids. After all, you want your brain to continue receiving stimulation and processing the sounds you hear so it will stay as young as you feel!

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