Remember getting your very first car? How great was that feeling of freedom? You could go anywhere, anytime, with anyone you wanted. For many people, getting their first hearing aids is a similar experience.
Why would getting your first pair of hearing aids be similar to getting your first car? Although there are well known benefits to hearing better, there are some less obvious ones that help you maintain your independent lifestyle. It so happens that your brain’s functionality is significantly impacted by hearing loss.
To demonstrate how efficiently your brain can respond to change, think about this: Taking the identical route as you always do, you set off for work. As you go to make that first right you find that the road is blocked. How would you react? Do you just quit and go back home? Probably not unless of course you’re looking for an excuse to avoid going to work. Seeking out another way to go is more than likely what you would choose to do. For as long as your regular route was closed this new route would turn into your new routine. If this new route ended up being even more efficient, you would substitute the old one with it.
The exact same thing happens inside your brain when a “normal” function is stopped or otherwise not working. New pathways are routed in the brain due to a function defined as neuroplasticity.
Perfecting new abilities like juggling, or learning a brand new language are achieved by neuroplasticity. It also helps you build healthy habits. Activities that were once-challenging come to be automatic as physical changes inside the brain gradually adjust to match the new pathways. While neuroplasticity is usually beneficial for learning new things, it’s also equally as good at causing you to you forget what you know.
Hearing Loss And Neuroplasticity
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, scientists from the University of Colorado discovered that even in the early stages of loss of hearing, when your brain quits working to process sounds, it will be re-purposed for other tasks. This is something you may not want it to be working on. The connection between loss of hearing and cognitive decay can be explained by this.
The parts of your brain that are responsible for hearing will be re-purposed for other functions like vision and touch. The available resources in your brain which are used to process sound are diminished and so is your ability to comprehend speech.
So, if you are constantly asking people to repeat themselves, loss of hearing has already begun. Additionally, it may be a more significant problem than injury to your inner ear, it’s possible that the neglected loss of hearing has induced your brain structure to change.
Can Hearing Aids Help You
This ability of the brain has a positive and a negative. Neuroplasticity may make your loss of hearing worse, but it also improves the performance of hearing aids. You can definitely make the most of current hearing aid technology thanks to the brain’s amazing ability to regenerate tissue and reroute neural pathways. Hearing aids encourage mental growth by stimulating the parts of your brain linked with loss of hearing.
The American Geriatrics Society published a long term study, in fact. Cognitive decline was decreased in people who wear 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, followed over three thousand adults age 65 and older over a 25 year period. What the researchers found was that the speed of cognitive decline was higher in those with hearing loss compared to those with healthy hearing. However, people that used hearing aids to correct their hearing loss displayed no difference in the rate of cognitive decline compared to those with normal hearing.
We already knew a lot about neuroplasticity and this study verifies that knowledge: the brain will coordinate functions according to your need and the amount of stimulation it is given. To put it another way, you need to, “use it or lose it.”
Preserving a Youthful Brain
The brain is versatile 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 deterioration and that simply using hearing aids prevent or minimize this decline.
Hearing aids are state-of-the-art hearing enhancement technology, not just over-the-counter amplification devices. According to leading brain plasticity expert Dr. Michael Merzenich, you can increase your brain function regardless of any health issues by pushing yourself to accomplish challenging new tasks, being active socially, and practicing mindfulness amongst other techniques.
Hearing aids are a crucial part of guaranteeing your quality of life. Those who have loss of hearing often become withdrawn or isolated. If you would like to remain active and independent, get a pair of hearing aids. Don’t forget that if you want your brain to stay as young as you feel it needs to keep processing sound and receiving stimulation.