Sudoku is a global, popular puzzle game, largely because of its simplicity. Some numbers, a pencil, and a few grids are all you need. For many people, a Sudoku puzzle book is a way to pass the hours. That it’s a workout for your brain is an additional perk.
“Brain workouts” have become a popular way of addressing cognitive decline. But there are other methods of slowing down mental decline. Current research has demonstrated that hearing aids may be capable of providing your brain with a little boost in mental stimulation, slowing the progression of cognitive decline.
What is Cognitive Decline?
Your brain is a “use it or lose it” organ. Without stimulation, neural connections will fizzle out. Your brain needs to forge and reinforce neural pathways, that’s why Sudoku works, it keeps you mentally active.
While a certain amount of mental decline is a natural process associated with aging, there are some variables that can hasten or worsen that decline. An especially formidable danger for your mental health, for instance, is hearing loss. Two things occur that powerfully affect your brain when your hearing starts to wain:
- You hear less: There is less sound going in to activate your auditory cortex (the hearing center of the brain). Your brain may end up changing in a way that causes it to prioritize other senses like sight. These changes have been linked to a higher risk of mental decline.
- You don’t go out as much: Untreated hearing loss can cause some people to self-isolate in an unhealthy way. Staying home to steer clear of conversations might seem simpler than going out and feeling self-conscious (especially as your neglected hearing loss worsens). But this is a bad idea as it can rob your brain of that necessary stimulation.
These two factors, when combined, can cause your brain to change in major ways. Memory loss, trouble concentrating, and ultimately an increased danger of dementia have been connected to this sort of mental decline.
Is Mental Decline Reversable With Hearing Aids?
So if your hearing loss is overlooked, this type of mental decline can be the result. This means that the number one way to reverse those declines is fairly clear: treat your hearing loss! In most cases, this means new hearing aids.
The degree to which hearing aids can slow cognitive decline is both surprising and well-substantiated. Around 100 people with hearing loss from the age of 62 to age 82 were interviewed by the University of Melbourne. Among those adults who used their hearing aids for at least 18 months, more than 97% revealed that their cognitive decline either stabilized or reversed.
That’s an almost universal improvement, simply from wearing hearing aids. We can learn a couple of things from this:
- One of the primary functions of hearing aids is to keep you in your social circle. And the more social you can be, the more engaged your brain remains. It’s easier (and more enjoyable) to talk with your friends when you can understand the conversation!
- Discovering ways to keep your auditory cortex active would be helpful because stimulation is essential to mental well being. This region of your brain will remain healthy and vital as long as you keep hearing ( with assistance from hearing aids).
Doesn’t Mean Sudoku is a Bad Idea
The University of Melbourne study isn’t an outlier. If you have neglected hearing loss, many studies have shown that using hearing aids can help decrease mental decline. The issue is that not everybody knows that they have hearing loss. You might not even notice the early signs. So if you’re feeling forgetful, strained, or even a little spacier than usual, it may be worth checking with your hearing specialist.
You should still continue doing Sudoko and other brain games. Keeping your brain nimble and engaged in numerous different ways can help expand the overall cognitive strength of your executive functions. Exercising and keeping mentally fit can be helped by both hearing aids and brain games.