HEARING TIPS

Don’t Let Loss of Hearing Stop You, Restore Your Independence by Using Hearing Aids

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

You will never forget getting your first car. The sense of independence was unmatched. You could go where you wanted, when you wanted, with whoever you wanted. Many people who suffer from 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 pair of hearing aids be like getting your first car? Even though there are obvious advantages to being able to hear better, there are some less obvious ones which help you keep your independent lifestyle. Come to find out, your hearing has a profound impact on your brain’s functionality.

Neuroplasticity

Your brain’s ability to respond to changes can be explained with the following example: Taking the same way as you always do, you leave for work. Now, what if you go to take a turn only to discover the road is closed. What would be your reaction to this problem? Is quitting and going home an option? Unless you’re searching for a reason not to go to work, probably not. More than likely, you’ll find a different route. If that new route happened to be even more efficient, or if your regular route remained restricted, the new route would become the new routine.

In your brain, when normal functions are blocked the same thing takes place. The brain reroutes its processing down new paths, and this re-routing process is defined as neuroplasticity.

Neuroplasticity can assist you in learning a new language, or to learn new skills like drawing or painting or forming healthy habits. Little by little, the physical changes to the brain adapt to match the new pathways and once-challenging tasks become automatic. While neuroplasticity is usually helpful for learning new skills, it’s also just as good at making 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, The pathways in your brain will immediately begin to be re-purposed if they stop processing sound according to research conducted by the University of Colorado. This is something you may not want it to be working on. This reorganization of your brain’s function clarifies the connection between hearing loss and cognitive decrease.

If you have hearing loss, the parts of your brain responsible for functions, including vision or touch, can take over the under-utilized pathways of the brain responsible for hearing. The available resources inside your brain which are used to process sound are decreased and so is your capacity to understand speech.

So, if you are repeatedly asking people to speak up, hearing loss has already begun. Additionally, it may be a more significant issue than injury to your inner ear, it’s probable that the neglected loss of hearing has induced your brain structure to change.

Can Hearing Aids Help You

This talent of the brain has a positive and a downside. Neuroplasticity may possibly 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 pathways, you can make the most of the advanced technology inside your ear. Since the hearing aids stimulate the parts of the brain that regulate hearing loss, they stimulate mental growth and development.

In fact, a long-term study was published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. It found that having a set of hearing aids decreased 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 age 65 and older over 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 showed no difference in the rate of cognitive decline as compared to those with normal hearing.

The best part of this research is that we can validate what we already understand about neuroplasticity: if you don’t use it you will end up losing it because the brain arranges its functions according to the amount of stimulation it gets and the need at hand.”

Maintaining a Youthful Brain

In short, the brain is powerful and can adapt itself drastically no matter what your age or stage in life. You should also take into consideration that hearing loss can speed up mental deterioration and that this decline can be decreased or even averted by wearing hearing aids.

Hearing aids are not cheap over-the-counter amplification devices, they are sophisticated hearing enhancement technology. According to leading brain plasticity expert Dr. Michael Merzenich, you can increase your brain function regardless of any health conditions by pushing yourself to perform challenging new activities, being socially active, and practicing mindfulness amongst other techniques.

To guarantee your quality of life, hearing aids are a must. People who have loss of hearing often become withdrawn or isolated. Simply by investing in a pair of hearing aids, you can make sure that you stay active and independent. After all, you want your brain to continue experiencing stimulation and processing the sounds that you hear so it will stay as young as you feel!

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