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Treating Hearing Loss Could Help Improve Brain Function and Reduce Risk for Alzheimer’s

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Hearing Centers of AZ - Treating Hearing Loss Could Help Improve Brain Function and Reduce Risk for Alzheimer’sAlzheimer’s disease is a growing health concern in the United States, with an estimated 5.5 million American living with the disease. While a vast majority of those cases are age 65 and older, Alzheimer’s isn’t a natural part of aging. It is a condition that progressively gets worse and is currently incurable. There is a strong link between Alzheimer’s and hearing loss, yet another health condition that is irreversible and worsens over time. Besides sharing a strong correlation in whom these conditions affect, age-related hearing loss produces behavioral changes that could exacerbate the progression of Alzheimer’s in older individuals.

Build new brain healthy habits

There is a false belief in our society that accepting hearing loss and dementia are just part of the aging process. Nothing could be further from the truth. While Alzheimer’s is a devastating disease, there are steps you can take to lessen the risk that you’ll develop the condition. Promising research advises on adopting brain healthy habits that may protect against or slow down the process of deterioration.

People with hearing loss might pay particular attention to the advisements, as many of these same behaviors become increasingly challenging if difficulty in communication associated with age-related hearing loss rears its head.

Social Engagement

Continued social engagement ranks highly as a way to keep your brain actively engaged. Human beings are social creatures and connection is an essential aspect of a healthy emotional life. The human brain was wired to be in relationships with other humans, so maintaining a social life is actual like feeding your brain the exact stimulation it wants.

But one of the most often reported effects of age-related hearing loss is a sense of isolation. It’s a natural instinct to avoid things that are difficult, and conversation when hearing loss is present can be confusing and uncomfortable. If you’re affected by hearing loss, make a note to continue to put yourself in uncomfortable situations and do so with some grace for yourself. You’re trying and that’s what matters. You might investigate disclosure strategies for hearing loss so that you can be up front about your difficulty and help people ease your interactions. Eventually it will become less uncomfortable. Who knows? You might end up having fun!

Regular Exercise

Exercise is crucial to maintaining mobility in our bodies and also our brains. Regular exercise stimulates the brain’s ability to maintain old connections like the ones ingrained and unconscious that assist in physical movement. It also enhances the ability to form new connections. The Alzheimer’s Research & Prevention Foundation states that regular physical exercise can reduce your risk of developing the disease by up to 50%

If exercise wasn’t a habit before an age-related hearing loss diagnosis, it is a difficult one to take up after the fact. People with untreated hearing loss tend to keep the same patterns they’ve grown accustomed to. This is likely due to the fact that with the loss of sound information comes a certain sense of uncertainty. Thus, familiar patterns become unchangeable. Be on the watch for this and challenge yourself to take a new route to the grocery store or see a movie outside of your preferred genre. Make it a habit to break old habits. Better yet, get moving on incorporating a little exercise into your daily routine. Even a half hour of moderate walking every day can make a difference.

Mental Stimulation

Speaking of stepping outside your comfort zone, mental stimulation can be the most powerful antidote to Alzheimer’s. The NIH ACTIVE study showed that older adults who received as few as 10 sessions of mental training not only improved their cognitive functioning in daily activities in the months after the training, they continued to show long lasting improvements even 10 years later. This means you should learn something new whenever possible. This encourages the brain to activate areas and make connections, forging new neural pathways. Think of it as an exercise regimen for your noggin’!

Taking up a crossword habit isn’t a task particularly challenging for folks with hearing loss, but a reality is that any these novel endeavors are most powerfully stimulating when they require communication and interaction. Taking a class that requires interacting with others will be much more effective than sitting in isolation with a book. And that is a challenge for those who have untreated hearing loss.

Hearing loss intervention

Of course, a proven way to combat the isolating behaviors that can come with age-related hearing loss is by intervening. In regard to Alzheimer’s prevention, hearing aids can do double duty by lubricating social anxiety and stimulating the parts of the brain responsible for interpreting sound. You can stop the cycle with the desire to change. Visit us at the Hearing Centers of Arizona for a consultation and hearing test.

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