HEARING TIPS

Wearing Hearing Aids Will Put You Back in Control of Your Life

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

You will never forget getting your first car. Nothing can compare to that feeling of independence. At any moment you could call some friends and go wherever you wanted. For many people, getting their first hearing aids is a similar experience.

Why would getting your first hearing aids be compared to getting your first car? There are some subtle reasons why using hearing aids can help you make sure you don’t lose your independence. As it turns out, your hearing has a powerful effect on your brain’s functionality.

Neuroplasticity

Your brain’s capacity to respond to changes can be illustrated as follows: You’re on your way to your job, taking the same way you always do. Now, what if you go to take a corner and you discover that the road is closed. How would you react? Is quitting and going back home a good decision? Most likely not unless you’re trying to find a reason to avoid the office. More than likely, you’ll find an alternate route. For as long as your regular route was closed this new route would become your new routine. If this new route turned out to be even more efficient, you would replace the old one with it.

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

Perfecting new abilities such as juggling, or learning a new language are carried out by neuroplasticity. It also helps you build healthy habits. Activities that were once-challenging come to be automatic as physical modifications to the brain slowly adjust to match the new pathways. Neuroplasticity can be just as good at making you forget about what you already know as it can be at assisting you in learning new skills.

How Does Neuroplasticity Relate to Hearing Loss?

A perfect example of how neuroplasticity can have a negative impact is hearing loss. As explained in The Hearing Review, The pathways inside of your brain will immediately start to be re-purposed if they stop processing sound according to a report done by the University of Colorado. And it may not be ideal for them to alter in that way. This reorganization of your brain function clarifies the link between loss of hearing and cognitive decrease.

When you have loss of hearing, the parts of your brain responsible for functions, such as vision or touch, can take over the under-utilized areas of the brain responsible for hearing. This reduces the brain’s available resources for processing sound, and it impairs our capability of understanding speech.

So, if you find yourself saying “what was that?” regularly, you already have hearing loss. And even more significant is the fact that your brain may already be starting to restructure.

Can Hearing Aids Help You

As with most things, there is both a negative and positive angle to this amazing ability. Neuroplasticity enhances the overall performance of your hearing aids even though it might make your hearing loss worse. You can definitely make the most of current hearing aid technology because of your brain’s amazing ability to regenerate tissue and reroute neural pathways. Because the hearing aids activate the parts of the brain that handle loss of hearing, they stimulate mental growth and development.

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 over the age of 65. What the researchers discovered 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 showed no difference in the rate of cognitive decline compared to those with normal hearing.

We already understood a lot about neuroplasticity and this research confirms that understanding: 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 Young Brain

The brain is powerful and can change itself at any time regardless of your age. It’s also important to note that hearing loss can hasten mental deterioration and that this decline can be decreased or even prevented by wearing hearing aids.

Don’t discount your hearing aids as simple over-the-counter sound amplification devices. According to leading brain plasticity expert Dr. Michael Merzenich, by challenging yourself with new activities, being active socially, and perhaps practicing mindfulness you can help improve your brain’s performance regardless of your age.

To ensure your quality of life, hearing aids are a must. Those who have hearing loss may become withdrawn or isolated. Only by investing in a pair of hearing aids, you can make sure that you remain active and independent. After all, you want your brain to keep receiving stimulation and processing the sounds that you hear so it will stay as young as you feel!

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