Because it’s simple, soduku is a globally popular puzzle game. All you need to play is a few grids, a pencil, and some numbers. A very pleasant way to pass some time, for many individuals, is a soduku puzzle book. It’s an additional perk that it’s good for your brain.
It’s becoming popular to use “brain workouts” to tackle cognitive decline. But there are other methods of delaying cognitive decline. Recent research has demonstrated that hearing aids may be able to provide your brain with a nice little boost in mental activation, slowing down the progression of cognitive decline.
What is Mental Decline?
Your brain is a “use it or lose it” organ. Without stimulus, neural connections tend to fizzle out. Your brain needs to forge and reinforce neural pathways, that’s why Sudoku works, it keeps you mentally active.
There are a few things that will accelerate the process that would be an ordinary amount of mental decline connected with aging. Hearing loss, for instance, can provide a particularly formidable risk for your cognitive health. When your hearing begins to decline, two things take place that powerfully affect your brain:
- You can’t hear as well: There is less sound going in to stimulate your auditory cortex (the hearing center of the brain). This can cause alterations to your brain (in some situations, for instance, your brain begins to prioritize visual stimuli; but that’s not true for everybody). Increased risk of mental decline has been associated with these changes.
- You don’t go out as much: Untreated hearing loss can cause some people to self-isolate in an unhealthy way. Staying in to escape conversations may seem simpler than going out and feeling self-conscious (particularly as your neglected hearing loss progresses). But this is a bad idea as it can deprive your brain of that needed stimulation.
These two factors, when put together, can cause your brain to change in major ways. Memory loss, trouble concentrating, and eventually a higher risk of dementia have been related to this kind of cognitive decline.
Is Mental Decline Reversable With Hearing Aids?
So, this mental decline occurs because your hearing loss is being neglected. This means that the best way to reverse those declines is pretty clear: treat your hearing impairment! In most cases, this means new hearing aids.
It’s well substantiated and also unexpected the extent that hearing aids can delay cognitive decline. Scientists at the University of Melbourne surveyed approximately 100 adults between the ages of 62-82, all of whom had some form of hearing loss. Among those adults who used their hearing aids for at least 18 months, over 97% reported that their mental decline either stopped or reversed.
Just wearing hearing aids brought about an almost universal improvement. That tells us a couple of things:
- Finding ways to keep your auditory cortex active would be beneficial because stimulation is the key to mental health. As long as you continue to hear (assisted by hearing aids), this major region of your brain will continue to be stimulated, active, and healthy.
- Helping you continue to be social is one of the primary functions of any set of hearing aids. And your brain stays more involved when you stay social. It’s easier (and more enjoyable) to talk with your friends when you can understand the conversation!
Sudoko is Still a Good Idea
This new study out of the University of Melbourne isn’t an outlier. If you have neglected hearing loss, countless studies have revealed that using hearing aids can help slow mental decline. The dilemma is that not everybody recognizes that they have hearing loss. The symptoms can take you by surprise. So if you’re feeling forgetful, strained, or even a bit spacier than usual, it might be worth talking with your hearing specialist.
That hearing aids are so successful doesn’t automatically mean you should give up on your Sudoku or other brain games. Keeping your brain agile and involved in a number of different ways can help expand the overall cognitive strength of your executive functions. Working your brain out and staying mentally fit can be helped by both hearing aids and brain games.