Because it’s simple, soduku is one of the world’s most popular puzzle games. All you need in order to play is some grids, some numbers, and a pencil. For many, a Sudoku puzzle book is a relaxing way to pass the hours. It’s an added bonus that it’s good for your brain.
It’s become popular to use “brain workouts” to manage cognitive decline. But there are other means of slowing down mental decline. At times, your brain needs a boost in mental activation and research has revealed that hearing aids may be able to fill that role.
Mental Decline, What is it?
Your brain has a rather use-it-or-lose-it disposition. Without stimulation, neural connections have the tendency to fizzle. That’s why Sudoku has a tendency to keep you mentally active: it causes your brain to think, to creatively make and reinforce numerous neural pathways.
While some mental decline is a normal part of aging, there are some factors that can speed up or worsen that decline. Hearing loss, as an example, can provide a really potent risk for your mental health. When your hearing starts to decline, two things happen 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 related to hearing) gets weakened stimulation. This can cause changes in your brain (in some cases, for instance, your brain begins to prioritize visual information; but that’s not true for everybody). A higher danger of mental decline has been linked to these changes.
- You go out less: Neglected hearing loss can cause some people to self-isolate in a detrimental way. As your hearing loss increases, it may just seem easier to stay inside to escape conversation. This can rob your brain of even more input.
These two things, when combined, can cause your brain to change in major ways. Loss of memory, trouble concentrating, and eventually an increased risk of dementia have been connected to this type of mental decline.
Can Hearing Aids Reverse Declines?
So, this mental decline takes place because your hearing loss is being neglected. This means that the best way to reverse those declines is fairly obvious: address your hearing impairment! For most people with hearing loss, that means a brand new pair of properly-calibrated hearing aids.
The degree to which hearing aids can slow cognitive decline is both surprising and well-corroborated. Approximately 100 people with hearing loss from the age of 62 to age 82 were surveyed by the University of Melbourne. Among those adults who wore their hearing aids for at least 18 months, over 97% revealed that their cognitive decline either stabilized or reversed.
That’s an almost universal improvement, simply from wearing hearing aids. That tells us a couple of things:
- Stimulation is integral to your mental health, so that means anything that keeps your auditory cortex active when it normally wouldn’t be, is most likely advantageous. This region of your brain will remain vital and healthy as long as you continue to hear ( with assistance from hearing aids).
- One of the primary functions of hearing aids is to keep you in your social circle. And your brain remains more involved when you are social. When you can understand conversations it’s much more enjoyable to spend time with your friends.
Doesn’t Mean Sudoku is a Bad Idea
The University of Melbourne research isn’t an outlier. If you have neglected hearing loss, numerous studies have demonstrated that using hearing aids can help decrease cognitive decline. But many individuals have hearing loss and simply don’t recognize it. You might not even recognize the early signs. 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 automatically mean you should quit doing Sudoku or other brain games. They keep your brain refreshed and pliable and give you better overall cognitive function. Working your brain out and staying cognitively fit can be assisted by both hearing aids and brain games.