President Biden recently signed an executive order on promoting competition that will allow hearing aids to be sold over the counter at pharmacies. According to the White House fact sheet, hearing loss affects approximately 48 million Americans, but only around 14% can afford them — as they are often not covered by health insurance. While the new FDA rules are still being determined, however, patients should pay close attention to their hearing abilities.
There are plenty of negative effects related to untreated hearing loss. Recent studies highlight a number of psychological and health concerns caused by poor hearing; when left untreated, these can have an immense impact on your quality of life. Cognitive problems, in particular, are associated with old age and poor hearing. Here are some ways to manage hearing loss early on so that it can help keep your brain active and healthy:
It keeps your memory sharp
The loss of hearing should not be taken lightly and is not just a harmless side effect of aging. In fact, it’s linked to a higher risk of dementia, along with other risk factors like isolation, depression and falling. You’re more likely to notice a decline in your memory before reduced hearing function, because hearing loss is experienced gradually. When your brain is too busy trying to listen, decipher, and interpret sound, it cannot memorize speech content as well.
This is known as cognitive overload. You may not be able to retain information as well because your brain was concentrating on understanding what was being said, rather than understanding it, so there aren’t any details to recall. Even relatively mild hearing loss can cause cognitive overload, so you may experience hearing-related memory loss even without severe hearing issues.
It slows cognitive decline
There are two ways hearing loss can affect cognitive function in older adults. The first has to do with the above-mentioned cognitive load. When your brain is overworked, trying to understand speech and sound, it won’t work efficiently. Secondly, hearing loss can affect your brain’s structure. A lack of stimulation can cause brain cells to shrink, including the parts that receive and process sound. Senior care providers would need to help their patients maintain cognitive abilities, and spot signs of cognitive impairment for early treatment.
With the ongoing pandemic, it’s even more important for seniors to be in top cognitive shape as they can become isolated. Fortunately most healthcare providers now use telemedicine to keep delivering care. Telehealth has become an important trend in healthcare, especially during the pandemic, and one that is being taught at every level of medical training. Gerontology specialists who take a health administration master’s program are taught the latest in healthcare management. This will include the latest technological trends such as effective telehealth communication with seniors. Aside from understanding issues that affect the elderly, these skilled caregivers would know how to stimulate a patient’s cognitive abilities.
It maintains your level of comprehension
Hearing loss goes beyond the decibels and frequencies, because your brain’s processing power is also put at risk. Your ears gather sound waves that your brain “hears” and interprets into something you can recognize. However, hearing loss causes you to forget those speech sounds, which leads your brain to process the wrong information; this leads to a lack of understanding and clarity.
And when someone has trouble participating in conversations and socializing, they may prefer to stay at home instead. Loneliness and isolation don’t just have adverse effects on a person’s psyche, but it also exposes people to fewer stimuli — which helps keep the brain active and functional.
When it comes to hearing loss, it’s best to address the problem before significant neurological changes can happen. Be proactive with your auditory health and get a hearing assessment today.
AudioCardio is a technology company focused on hearing health and wellness. Learn how AudioCardio can help maintain and strengthen your hearing with your favorite headphones or hearing aids at www.audiocardio.com.
Article was specially written for audiocardio.com by Andrea Conner