Remember when you got your first car? Nothing can compare to that sense of freedom. It was your choice when and where you went and with who you went with. Many people who suffer from loss of hearing have this exact same experience when they get their first hearing aids.
How could investing in your first pair of hearing aids be similar to getting your first car? There are some subtle reasons why having hearing aids can help you keep your independence. It so happens that your brain’s functionality is significantly impacted by hearing loss.
The following example illustrates how your brain responds to changes: You’re on your way to work, taking the same way you always take. Now, suppose you go to make a turn only to discover the road is closed. How would you react? Is quitting and going home a good decision? Probably not unless of course you’re trying to find an excuse to avoid the office. Seeking out another route is most likely what you would do. 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 substitute the old one with it.
In your brain, when normal functions are blocked the very same thing takes place. Brand new pathways are routed in the brain due to a function defined as neuroplasticity.
Neuroplasticity can assist you in learning new languages, or to learn new abilities such as playing an instrument or building 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 equally as good at causing you to forget about things you already know as it is at assisting you in learning new things.
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 quickly begin to get re-purposed if they quit processing sound according to a study done by the University of Colorado. And it probably isn’t ideal for them to change in that way. This reordering of your brain function explains the connection between loss of hearing and cognitive decrease.
When you have hearing loss, the areas of your brain responsible for functions, like vision or touch, can solicit the less-utilized pathways of the brain responsible for hearing. The available resources inside your brain which are used to process sound are diminished and so is your ability to comprehend speech.
So, if you are repeatedly asking people to speak up, hearing loss has already started. And even more significant is the fact that your brain may already be beginning to restructure.
How Hearing Aids Can Help You
As with anything, you get both a negative and positive side to this astonishing ability. Neuroplasticity may possibly make your loss of hearing worse, but it also elevates the performance of hearing aids. You can really make the most of current hearing aid technology because of the brain’s ability to regenerate tissue and reroute neural paths. As the hearing aids stimulate the parts of the brain that handle loss of hearing, they stimulate mental growth and development.
In fact, a long-term study was published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. Cognitive decline was lessened 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 over three thousand adults age 65 and older over a 25 year period. 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 as compared to those with normal hearing.
We already understood quite a bit about neuroplasticity and this study verifies that understanding: the brain will manage functions according to the current need and the amount of stimulation it receives. In other words, you need to, “use it or lose it.”
Having a Youthful Brain
It doesn’t matter what your age is, the adaptability of the brain means it can change itself at any point in time. It’s also important to note that hearing loss can speed up mental deterioration and that simply using hearing aids prevent or minimize this decline.
Hearing aids are not cheap over-the-counter sound amplification devices, they are high-tech hearing enhancement technology. According to leading brain plasticity expert Dr. Michael Merzenich, by challenging yourself to engage in new activities, being active socially, and maybe even practicing mindfulness you can enhance your brain’s functionality no matter what your age.
To ensure your quality of life, hearing aids are a must. Becoming isolated and withdrawn is a common problem for people with hearing loss. If you want to stay 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.