You will never forget getting your first car. How awesome was that sense of independence? You could go where you wanted, anytime, with whoever you wanted. For many people, getting their first hearing aids is a lot like that feeling.
How could investing in your first pair of hearing aids be like getting your first car? There are some less obvious reasons why having hearing aids will help you keep your independence. It so happens that your brain’s functionality is significantly impacted by hearing loss.
Your brain’s ability to respond to changes can be illustrated as follows: Following the identical route as you always have, you set off for work. As you go to make that first left you find that the road is blocked. How would you respond? Is quitting and going back home a good decision? Most likely not unless you’re trying to find an excuse to avoid the office. More likely, you’ll use an alternate route. If that route was even more efficient, or if the primary route remained restricted, the new route would become the new everyday routine.
Inside your brain, when normal functions are not working the very same thing happens. The term neuroplasticity defines the brain’s process of rerouting along different pathways.
Learning new skills such as juggling, or learning a new language are accomplished by neuroplasticity. It also helps you build healthy habits. Slowly, the physical changes inside the brain adjust to correspond to the new paths and once-challenging tasks become automatic. Neuroplasticity can be equally as good at making you forget what you already know as it can be at assisting you in learning new skills.
Neuroplasticity And Loss of Hearing
A perfect example of how neuroplasticity can have a negative impact is hearing loss. As explained in The Hearing Review, The pathways inside your brain will immediately begin to get re-purposed if they quit processing sound according to a report conducted by the University of Colorado. And it probably isn’t ideal for them to alter in that way. The link between loss of hearing and cognitive decay can be explained by this.
If you have loss of hearing, the areas of your brain responsible for functions, like vision or touch, can take over the less-utilized pathways of the brain responsible for hearing. This lessens the brain’s available resources for processing sound, and it impairs our capability of understanding speech.
So, if you find yourself asking “what was that?” regularly, you already have hearing loss. What’s more, it may be a more substantial problem than damage to your inner ear, it’s probable that the neglected hearing loss has induced your brain structure to change.
How Hearing Aids Can Help You
As with anything, there is both a negative and positive angle to this astonishing ability. Neuroplasticity may possibly make your hearing loss worse, but it also enhances the performance of hearing aids. You can definitely take advantage of current hearing aid technology thanks to the brain’s amazing ability to regenerate tissue and reroute neural pathways. As the hearing aids stimulate the parts of the brain that regulate 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. It found that wearing a set of hearing aids lessened 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 over the age of 65. What the scientists found was that the speed of cognitive decline was higher in those with hearing loss compared to those with healthy hearing. However, participants that used hearing aids to correct their hearing loss displayed no difference in the rate of cognitive decline compared to those with normal hearing.
We already understood a lot about neuroplasticity and this research verifies that understanding: the brain will manage functions according to your need and the amount of stimulation it receives. To put it another way, you need to, “use it or lose it.”
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 accelerate mental deterioration and that simple hearing aids prevent or reduce this decline.
Hearing aids are sophisticated hearing enhancement technology, not just over-the-counter amplification devices. According to leading brain plasticity expert Dr. Michael Merzenich, by pushing yourself with 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 have. People who have hearing loss may become withdrawn or isolated. Only by investing in a pair of hearing aids, you can ensure that you remain active and independent. Keep in mind that if you want your brain to stay as young as you feel it needs to keep processing sound and receiving stimulation.