According to the Association of Independent Hearing Healthcare Professionals, persons over the age of 60 should get their hearing tested at least every 2 years. And that recommendation is for people who aren’t having any hearing problems.
We know hearing exams can catch even the slightest changes in your hearing and allow the doctor to inform you of your options.
But can having a hearing exam benefit you in other ways?
Let’s explore how a hearing exam can protect you from dementia, beginning with the initial step: identifying the problem.
1. Identifying and Addressing the Problem
Hearing exams allow your doctor to assess and identify the hearing issues you’re having. This allows for proper treatment and remedying of the hearing impairment.
Whether through hearing aids, hearing exercises or cochlear implants, your doctor can address the issues you’re having to get your hearing back to the best it can be. Fixing your hearing allows for numbers 2 and 3 to come into play.
2. Exercising Cognition and Enhancing Social Interaction/Quality of Life
Social isolation has been linked to the onset and further progression of dementia due to the lack of cognitive stimulation and feelings of being cut off from others.
Loneliness and isolation can affect people on a very deep level. People need people. We need authentic interaction, connection, companionship. But these become more difficult to achieve when we’re struggling to hear what others say.
A hearing exam and proper treatment allow you to enhance your social interaction. Thereby, enhancing your quality of life. This provides you with the opportunity to make and maintain genuine human connection.
You’ll be able to truly hear a person’s words as they are said, rather than spending minutes or even hours trying to decipher the message through the breakdown in transmission.
3. Reducing Cognitive Overload and the Resulting Stress
Alzheimer’s and its accompanying dementia affect memory and processing skills in a person who struggles with this condition. Reducing cognitive overload frees up your cognition to work harder in more pressing areas.
After identifying and addressing the problem with your hearing, you’ll be able to hear the things you’ve been missing. You’ll also start to hear the things that you’d spent so much cognitive energy trying to decipher through your limited hearing ability.
Cognitive overload occurs when so much of your energy is expended to figure out what others are saying, that your overall cognitive abilities are affected. This can lead to heavy amounts of stress on your body and brain functioning, hindering your ability to effectively use cognitive processes in other areas of your life.
In addition to the protection hearing exams offer you, you can also use silence and stillness to counteract some of the damage that has already been done through cognitive overload. This practice of sitting quietly and allowing your brain to recover from daily stresses strengthens your cognitive abilities. The brain can heal itself if given a break through silence and stillness.
You have the right to a high quality of life. You have the right to be heard. To hear. To connect. And getting a hearing exam can help you receive this sort of experience by protecting you from the onset or progression of dementia.