Something like 28 million people could benefit from wearing hearing aids. Of course, when we talk about statistics like that, we usually mean that those 28 million people would hear the world a little bit better if they had some help (in the form of specialized devices). But there are also some other, rather unexpected health benefits that you can begin to enjoy thanks to your hearing aids.
It turns out that something as simple as wearing your hearing aids could be good for your mental and physical health. These little devices can help prevent (or delay) everything from depression to fall-induced-injury. In more ways than one, your hearing aids can help keep you on your feet.
Hearing Aids and Mental Health Benefits
The link between untreated hearing loss and cognitive decline is pretty well established by modern medical research. The current thinking is that, for a mixture of social, mental, and physical reasons, hearing loss can lead to an increased risk of mental illness, such as anxiety, depression, cognitive decline, and dementia.
So it’s no surprise that recent analyses have suggested that hearing aids might have significant mental health benefits.
Lowering Your Risk of Dementia
According to one study, wearing your hearing aids can help reduce your risk of developing dementia by up to 18%. That’s a wonderful benefit when the only thing you have to do is remember to wear your hearing aids every day.
Other studies have suggested that wearing your hearing aids regularly can delay the onset of dementia by up to two years. Further research needs to be conducted to help clarify and replicate these findings, but it’s certainly encouraging.
Reduce Depression and Anxiety
Depression and anxiety are not symptoms that are exclusive to those who have hearing loss. But there is plenty of evidence to suggest that those with hearing loss are at increased risk to develop both depression and anxiety as time goes on.
Wearing your hearing aids can help keep you socially involved and mentally engaged. If those were contributing to depression and anxiety, they may help.
You Won’t Feel as Lonely
While it might not sound as dire or important as dementia, loneliness can be a big problem for those with untreated hearing loss, caused by and exacerbating a sense of social isolation. That social isolation can cause significant changes to your mood. So being able to stay social and engaged thanks to your hearing aid can be a big benefit.
To be sure, this ties together with your hearing aids’ ability to lower the risks of depression, for example. To a certain extent, all of these health concerns connect in some way.
Hearing Aids and Physical Benefits
There’s some evidence to suggest that as hearing loss symptoms become more noticeable, your risk for stroke goes up. But that particular research is definitely on the preliminary side. The most pronounced (and noticeable) physical benefit of hearing aids is a little simpler: you’ll fall less often.
This happens for two reasons:
- Situational awareness: Hearing aids can increase your situational awareness. This means you’ll be more capable of avoiding obstacles that could cause a fall. For example, if your pet is running to greet you, you hear them and anticipate them rushing around the corner.
- Fall detection: Sometimes it’s not the fall that’s hazardous. Rather, it’s your inability to get back up that creates possible danger. Many new models of hearing aids have fall detection built in. With certain settings enabled, when you take a tumble, a call will automatically be made to one of your pre-programmed emergency contacts so they know to check on you.
Falling can have pretty substantial health impacts, especially as you age. So preventing falls (or minimizing the damage from falls) can be a huge benefit that ripples throughout your overall health.
Be Sure to Wear Your Hearing Aids
It’s worth noting that all of these benefits apply to those who suffer from hearing ailments. If your hearing is healthy, then wearing a hearing aid will likely not reduce your risk of dementia, for example.
But if you do suffer from hearing loss, the best thing you can do for your ears–and for the rest of your body–is to wear your hearing aids.