Woman with hearing loss happy to have her freedom and independence while riding in a convertible.

Do you recall getting your first car? The feeling of freedom was unparalleled. You could go where you wanted, when you wanted, with who you wanted. For many people, getting their first hearing aids is a lot like that feeling.

How can getting your first hearing aids compare to getting your first car? There are some less obvious reasons why having hearing aids can help you keep your independence. Come to find out, your hearing has a powerful impact on your brain’s functionality.

Neuroplasticity

The following example demonstrates how your brain responds to changes: Taking the exact same route as you always have, you leave for work. As you go to make that first turn you discover that the road is blocked. What would be your response to this blockage? Do you just give up and go back home? Probably not unless you’re looking for an excuse to avoid the office. More than likely, you’ll find a different route. For as long as your regular route was closed this new route would turn into your new routine. If the new route turned out to be more efficient, you would replace the old one with it.

When a normal brain function is blocked, your brain does the exact same thing. New pathways are forged in the brain due to a function defined as neuroplasticity.

Mastering new abilities like drawing or painting, or learning a brand new language are accomplished by neuroplasticity. It also helps you build healthy habits. Tasks that were at one time challenging become automatic as physical changes to the brain slowly adapt to match the new pathways. Although neuroplasticity can be beneficial for learning new things, it’s also equally as good at causing you to you forget what you know.

Hearing Loss And Neuroplasticity

Hearing loss is the perfect example of how neuroplasticity has a negative impact on your day-to-day life. As explained in The Hearing Review, scientists from the University of Colorado found that even in the early stages of hearing loss, when your brain stops working to process sounds, it will be re-purposed for something else. This is something you might not want it to be working on. The association between loss of hearing and cognitive decay can be explained by this.

If you have hearing loss, the parts of your brain in charge of functions, like vision or touch, can take over the less-utilized pathways of the brain responsible for hearing. The available resources in your brain which are used to process sound are diminished and so is your capacity to understand speech.

So, if you are continuously asking people to speak up, hearing loss has already started. In addition, it could be a more significant issue than injury to your inner ear, it’s possible that the neglected hearing loss has caused your brain structure to alter.

Can Hearing Aids Help You

This talent of the brain has a positive and a downside. Neuroplasticity may possibly make your hearing loss worse, but it also improves the performance of hearing aids. You can really make the most of advanced hearing aid technology because of the brain’s amazing ability to regenerate tissue and reroute neural pathways. Hearing aids encourage mental growth by exciting the parts of the brain associated with loss of hearing.

The American Geriatrics Society published a long term study, in fact. Cognitive decline was lessened in people with hearing aids, according to this study. The study, titled Self-Reported Hearing Loss: Hearing Aids and Cognitive Decline in Elderly Adults: A 25-year Study, followed over three thousand adults age 65 and older over a 25 year period. The study showed that people with hearing loss had a higher rate of cognitive decline. However, participants that used hearing aids to correct their hearing loss showed no difference in the rate of cognitive decline compared to those with normal hearing.

The best part of this research is that we can verify what we already understand about neuroplasticity: if you don’t use it you will end up losing it because the brain arranges its functions according to the amount of stimulation it receives and the need at hand.”

Having a Youthful Brain

It doesn’t make a difference how old you are, the adaptability of the brain means that it can change itself at any point in time. It’s also important to note that hearing loss can hasten mental deterioration and that simply using hearing aids can stop or reduce this decline.

Hearing aids are sophisticated hearing enhancement technology, not just over-the-counter amplifiers. According to leading brain plasticity expert Dr. Michael Merzenich, you can improve your brain function regardless of any health issues by pushing yourself to accomplish challenging new tasks, being active socially, and practicing mindfulness amongst other strategies.

To ensure your quality of life, hearing aids are a must have. Becoming isolated and withdrawn is common for people with hearing loss. You can be sure to stay active and independent by getting a pair of hearing aids. Don’t forget that if you want your brain to stay as young as you feel it needs to keep processing sound and receiving stimulation.