Sudoku is one of the most popular puzzle games in the world, mainly because of its simplicity. Some numbers, a pencil, and a few grids are all that’s required. A very pleasant way to pass some hours, for many, is a soduku puzzle book. That it gives your brain a workout is an additional perk.
It’s becoming popular to use “brain workouts” to address cognitive decline. But there are other methods of slowing down mental decline. Current research has shown that hearing aids may be able to provide your brain with a nice little boost in mental activation, slowing the progression of cognitive decline.
Mental Decline, What is it?
Your brain has a truly use-it-or-lose-it temperament. Without stimulus, neural connections will fizzle out. That’s why Sudoku tends to keep you mentally active: it forces your brain to think, to creatively make and reinforce numerous neural pathways.
There are certain things that will accelerate the process that would be a normal amount of cognitive decline connected with aging. Hearing loss, as an example, can introduce a really potent hazard for your cognitive health. When your hearing begins to diminish, two things take place that really affect your brain:
- You can’t hear as well: With less sound input, your auditory cortex (the region of your brain responsible for all things hearing-related) gets weakened stimulation. This can cause changes in your brain (in some cases, for example, your brain starts to prioritize visual stimuli; but that’s not true for everybody). Increased risk of cognitive decline has been associated with these changes.
- You don’t go out as much: Self isolation is a very unhealthy behavior, but that’s exactly what some people do when they have hearing loss. Staying in to escape conversations might seem easier than going out and feeling self-conscious (especially as your untreated hearing loss worsens). This can deprive your brain of even more stimulation.
Put together, these two factors can cause a major change in your brain. Memory loss, difficulty concentrating, and ultimately a higher danger of dementia have been linked to this sort of cognitive decline.
Can Hearing Aids Reverse Declines?
So if your hearing loss is overlooked, this kind of mental decline can be the result. And it’s fairly obvious what needs to be done to reverse these declines: have your hearing impairment treated. Normally, this means new hearing aids.
It’s well substantiated and also surprising the extent that hearing aids can slow down cognitive decline. Experts at the University of Melbourne surveyed about 100 adults between the ages of 62-82, all of whom had some form of hearing loss. Over 97% of those adults who wore their hearing aids for at least 18 months reported a stabilization or even reversal of that cognitive decline.
Just using hearing aids resulted in an almost universal improvement. That tells us a couple of things:
- Finding ways to activate your auditory cortex would be advantageous because stimulation is essential to mental well being. As long as you continue to hear (assisted by hearing aids), this essential area of your brain will remain stimulated, active, and healthy.
- Helping you remain social is one of the key functions of any set of hearing aids. And your brain stays more involved when you stay social. When you can understand conversations it’s a lot more fun to spend time with your friends.
Doesn’t Mean Sudoku is a Bad Idea
The University of Melbourne study isn’t the only one of it’s kind. Study after study seems to back the notion that hearing aids can help slow down cognitive decline, particularly when that decline would be hastened by untreated hearing loss. But many individuals have hearing loss and simply aren’t aware of it. You might not even recognize the early symptoms. So it’s worth scheduling an appointment with your hearing specialist if you’ve been feeling a bit spacey, forgetful, or stressed.
That hearing aids are so effective doesn’t necessarily mean you should give up on your Sudoku or other brain games. Keeping your brain nimble and involved in a number of different ways can help expand the overall cognitive strength of your executive functions. Working your brain out and keeping cognitively fit can be assisted by both hearing aids and brain games.