Because of its simplicity, soduku is a globally popular puzzle game. A pencil, some numbers, and a few grids are all that’s required. For many people, a Sudoku puzzle book is a relaxing way to pass the time. It’s an added 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 method of delaying cognitive recession. Often, your brain needs a boost in mental activation and studies have shown that hearing aids may be able to fill that role.
What is Cognitive Decline?
Your brain is a “use it or lose it” organ. Neural connections will fizzle without proper stimulation. Your brain has to forge and strengthen neural pathways, that’s the reason why Sudoku works, it keeps you mentally active.
While some mental decline is a natural process associated with aging, there are some factors that can accelerate or worsen that decline. Hearing loss, for example, can introduce an exceptionally formidable danger for your mental health. When your hearing begins to diminish, two things happen that really affect your brain:
- You hear less: With less sound input, your auditory cortex (the region of your brain that deals with everything related to hearing) gets weakened stimulation. Your brain may end up changing in a way that makes it prioritize other senses like sight. Increased danger of mental decline has been associated with these changes.
- You go out less: Neglected hearing loss can cause some individuals to self-isolate in a detrimental way. As your hearing loss progresses, it might just seem simpler to stay inside to escape conversation. But this is a bad idea as it can rob your brain of that necessary stimulation.
Put together, these two factors can cause a significant change in your brain. Memory loss, difficulty concentrating, and eventually a higher risk of dementia have been related to this sort of cognitive decline.
Can Hearing Aids Reverse Declines?
So if your hearing loss is ignored, this kind of cognitive decline can be the outcome. This means that the best way to reverse those declines is fairly clear: deal with your hearing loss! For the majority of people with hearing loss, that means a shiny new pair of well-calibrated hearing aids.
It’s well substantiated and also surprising the extent that hearing aids can delay cognitive decline. Approximately 100 people with hearing loss from the age of 62 to age 82 were interviewed by the University of Melbourne. Among those adults who wore their hearing aids for at least 18 months, more than 97% said that their mental decline either stabilized or reversed.
That’s a nearly universal improvement, simply from using hearing aids. That tells us a couple of things:
- Stimulation is critical to your mental health, so that means anything that keeps your auditory cortex active when it otherwise wouldn’t be, is most likely advantageous. As long as you keep hearing (assisted by hearing aids), this vital area of your brain will remain stimulated, active, and healthy.
- Helping you stay social is one of the key functions of any pair of hearing aids. And your brain remains more engaged when you stay social. When you can understand conversations it’s much more enjoyable to spend time with your friends.
Doesn’t Mean Sudoku is a Bad Idea
This new research out of the University of Melbourne isn’t the only one of it’s kind. Numerous studies seem to back the notion that hearing aids can help slow cognitive decline, specifically when that decline would be hastened by untreated hearing loss. But many individuals have hearing loss and just aren’t aware of it. You might not even recognize the early signs. So if you’re feeling strained, forgetful, or even a little spacier than normal, it might be worth checking with your hearing specialist.
That hearing aids are so effective doesn’t necessarily mean you should give up on your Sudoku or other brain games. They keep your brain fresh and pliable and give you better overall cognitive function. Both hearing aids and Sudoku can help you exercise your brain and keep yourself mentally fit.