Sudoku is a worldwide, popular puzzle game, in large part because of its simplicity. Some numbers, a pencil, and a few grids are all that’s required. A very enjoyable way to pass some hours, for many people, is a soduku puzzle book. That it gives your brain a workout is an additional perk.
It’s become popular to use “brain workouts” to tackle mental decline. But Sudoku isn’t the only method of delaying cognitive recession. Sometimes, your brain needs a boost in mental activation and studies have revealed that hearing aids may be capable of filling that role.
Cognitive Decline, What is it?
Your brain is a “use it or lose it” organ. Without stimulation, neural pathways will fizzle. That’s why Sudoku has a tendency to keep you mentally active: it causes your brain to think, to creatively make and reinforce numerous neural pathways.
While a certain amount of mental decline is a natural process associated with aging, there are some factors that can hasten or worsen that decline. An especially potent risk for your cognitive health, as an example, is hearing loss. Two things happen that really impact your brain when your hearing begins to wain:
- You hear less: There’s not as much sound going in to activate your auditory cortex (the hearing center of the brain). This can cause changes in your brain (in some cases, for instance, your brain begins to prioritize visual information; but that’s not true for everybody). Increased risk of mental decline has been linked to these changes.
- You don’t go out as much: Untreated hearing loss can cause some people to self-isolate in an unhealthy way. As your hearing loss increases, it may just seem easier to stay home to escape conversation. This can deprive your brain of even more stimulation.
These two factors, when combined, can cause your brain to change in major ways. Loss of memory, problems concentrating, and eventually an increased danger of dementia have been linked to this kind of cognitive decline.
Is Mental Decline Reversable With Hearing Aids?
So if your hearing loss is overlooked, this kind of mental decline can be the outcome. And it’s pretty clear what needs to be done to reverse these declines: have your hearing loss treated. For most people with hearing loss, that means a brand new pair of properly-calibrated hearing aids.
It’s well substantiated and also unexpected the extent that hearing aids can delay cognitive decline. Researchers at the University of Melbourne interviewed about 100 adults between the ages of 62-82, all of whom had some kind of hearing loss. Among those adults who wore their hearing aids for at least 18 months, over 97% revealed that their mental decline either stabilized or reversed.
Just wearing hearing aids brought about an almost universal improvement. That tells us a couple of things:
- Stimulation is key to your mental health, so that means anything that keeps your auditory cortex active when it normally wouldn’t be, is most likely advantageous. This portion of your brain will stay healthy and vital as long as you keep hearing ( with help from hearing aids).
- Helping you continue to be social is one of the primary functions of any pair of hearing aids. And the more social you are, the more involved your brain remains. When you can hear conversations it’s a lot more enjoyable to spend time with your friends.
Sudoko is Still a Good Idea
The University of Melbourne research isn’t an outlier. If you have neglected hearing loss, numerous studies have revealed that wearing hearing aids can help decrease cognitive decline. The problem is that not everybody recognizes that they have hearing loss. You may not even notice the early signs. So it’s worth making an appointment with your hearing specialist if you’ve been feeling a bit forgetful, spacey, or stressed.
That hearing aids are so successful doesn’t automatically mean you should give up on your Sudoku or other brain games. Keeping your brain nimble and engaged in a number of different ways can help expand the overall cognitive strength of your executive functions. Exercising and keeping mentally fit can be assisted by both hearing aids and brain games.