Do you recall when you got your first car? The sense of independence was unprecedented. It was your decision when and where you went and with who you went with. Many people with hearing loss have this same type of experience when they get their first hearing aids.
How can getting your first pair of hearing aids be compared to getting your first car? Even though there are well known benefits to hearing better, there are some less obvious benefits that help you maintain your independent lifestyle. Come to find out, your hearing has a powerful impact on your brain’s functionality.
To reveal how well your brain will respond to change, think about this: Following the same exact route as you always do, you set off for work. You soon discover that there is a car accident blocking your way. How would you respond? Is giving up and going home a good decision? Unless you’re searching for a reason to not go to work, most likely not. More than likely, you’ll take an alternate route. As long as your primary route was closed this new route would turn into your new everyday routine. If the new route ended up being even more efficient, you would substitute the old one with it.
The same process takes place inside your brain when a “normal” function is stopped or else not working. The term neuroplasticity defines the brain’s process of rerouting along different pathways.
Mastering new skills like drawing or painting, or learning a brand new language are carried out by neuroplasticity. It also helps you build healthy habits. Little by little, the physical changes inside the brain adapt to match the new pathways and tasks that were once challenging become automatic. While neuroplasticity is usually helpful for learning new things, it can also be just as good at causing you to you forget what you already know.
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, scientists from the University of Colorado found that even in the early development of loss of hearing, when your brain stops working to process sounds, it will be re-purposed for something else. This is something you may not want it to be doing. The connection between hearing loss and cognitive decrease can be explained by this.
When you have hearing loss, the areas of your brain in charge of functions, including 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 weakens our capacity to understand speech.
So, if you are constantly asking people to repeat themselves, hearing loss has already started. And even more important is the fact that your brain might already be beginning to restructure.
How Hearing Aids Can Help You
This talent of the brain has an upside and a downside. Neuroplasticity improves the overall performance of your hearing aids even though it may make your hearing loss worse. Thanks to your brain’s talent of regenerating tissue and to reroute neural pathways, you can maximize the technology in your ear. As the hearing aids activate the parts of the brain that handle hearing loss, 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, followed over00 three thousand adults over the age of 65. The study showed that people with hearing loss had a higher rate of cognitive decline. However, people 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.
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 receives and the need at hand.”
Retaining a Youthful Brain
In short, the brain is versatile and can change itself significantly regardless of your age or stage in life. It’s also important to note that hearing loss can hasten mental decline and that simple hearing aids prevent or at least minimize this decline.
Hearing aids are sophisticated hearing enhancement technology, not just over-the-counter amplifiers. According to leading brain plasticity expert Dr. Michael Merzenich, you can enhance your brain function despite any health issues by pushing yourself to accomplish challenging new activities, being socially active, and practicing mindfulness among other techniques.
To ensure your quality of life, hearing aids are a must. Becoming isolated and withdrawn is a common problem for those with hearing loss. You can be sure to remain active and independent by getting 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.