By LAURA ROBERTSON
Hearing is a partnership between your ears and your brain. When a person speaks, your ears receive the sounds and send them to the brain, which understands the sounds. Cognitive load is the mental effort of understanding.
When your ears don’t hear properly, the sounds sent to your brain are not clear. Your brain has to make more effort to understand the sounds. Your brain has a limited amount of energy (like the rest of you) and, when it has to work harder to understand speech. This extra effort means other tasks as not performed as well; such as memory.
A Johns Hopkins study found that seniors with hearing loss experienced significantly more cognitive decline than peers with normal hearing. These researchers found that the brains of people with untreated hearing loss shrink faster than those who do not have hearing problems.
Thus, hearing loss is not just an ear issue, it’s a quality of life and health issue. Untreated hearing loss can have serious and wide-ranging consequences which include:
• Increased mental fatigue and increased stress
• Memory problems and difficulty focusing
• Social withdrawal and depression
• Increased risk of falling
Using hearing aids can lessen the effort your brain requires to understand conversations and sounds around you. Reducing the cognitive load improves memory, as well as communication. People who find it easier to communicate are more able to enjoy social interaction and maintain connections with friends and family. This helps you remain mentally active, reduces feelings of isolation or depression and leads to better, overall health.