Hearing, Dementia & the Brain
Several studies in the last few years have found a link between dementia and hearing loss. Your risk of developing dementia increases between 200% and 500% if you have a hearing loss. The leading theory about this connection is that hearing loss causes you to work harder to fill in the blanks of what your ears aren't giving your brain, causing you to go into cognitive overload. Because of the cognitive overload, your brain has less energy to devote to processing and remembering.
Hearing loss can also leads to social isolation, another risk factor for cognitive difficulty.
Now, the good news is that studies have also found that treating hearing loss is the number one thing that you can do to prevent dementia. One study has said it is more effective than any of the current medical treatments that are on the market. The treatment of hearing loss has been shown to improve cognitive function and reduce the deprivation our brains experience as a result of hearing loss.
Mishearing: Frustration & Amusement
It happens to all of us at one time or another. It happens more frequently when you have a hearing loss. It can be pretty funny at times, other times, it can be downright frustrating.
When we hear, no matter what our hearing is like, our brain is taking all of the different phonetic sounds that make up speech and putting them together like a jigsaw puzzle. Hearing loss takes some of those sounds away, forcing your brain to try and fill in the blanks.
Hearing loss isn’t really about an inability to hear, it would more accurately be described as an inability to understand. When your brain is competing with other noises and distractions, solving the puzzle becomes even more difficult. How many times have you missed the joke in a restaurant? How many times have you responded to your spouse in a way that resulted in a puzzled look because your answer didn’t have anything to do what what they said?
Mishearing is largely avoidable. You owe it to your friends, family and most importantly, yourself, to re-join the conversation. You have a lifetime of experiences to share with them, don’t let your difficulty in hearing slow you down or hold you back. You deserve better. YOU ARE WORTH IT.