Sudoku is one of the most popular puzzle games in the world, largely because of its simplicity. All you need in order to play is a few grids, some numbers, and a pencil. For many people, a Sudoku puzzle book is a pleasant way to pass the hours. It’s an added bonus that it’s good for your brain.
It’s becoming popular to use “brain workouts” to deal with mental decline. But there are other ways of delaying cognitive decline. Sometimes, your brain requires a boost in mental stimulation and research has demonstrated that hearing aids could be able to fill that role.
Mental Decline, What is it?
Your brain is a “use it or lose it” organ. Neural pathways will fizzle without appropriate stimulation. That’s the reason why Sudoku has a tendency to keep you mentally active: it causes your brain to think, to creatively forge and strengthen numerous neural pathways.
There are a few things that will hasten the process that would be a normal amount of mental decline connected with the aging process. Hearing loss, for instance, can introduce an especially formidable hazard for your cognitive health. Two things occur that powerfully impact your brain when your hearing begins to go:
- You hear less: There is less sound going in to stimulate your auditory cortex (the hearing focus of the brain). This can cause alterations to your brain (in some situations, for example, your brain begins to prioritize visual stimuli; but that’s not true for everyone). These changes have been connected to an increased risk of cognitive decline.
- You go out less: Untreated hearing loss can cause some people to self-isolate in an unhealthy way. As your hearing loss increases, it may just seem simpler to stay home to escape conversation. This can rob your brain of even more input.
Combined, these two factors can cause a major change in your brain. This mental decline has frequently been linked to memory loss, trouble concentrating, and (in the long term) greater risk of mental illness such as dementia.
Will Hearing Aids Reverse Declines?
So if your hearing loss is neglected, this kind of mental decline can be the result. And it’s pretty clear what you need to do to reverse these declines: get your hearing impairment treated. Usually, this means new hearing aids.
The amount that hearing aids can slow cognitive decline is both unexpected and well-substantiated. Around 100 people with hearing loss from the age of 62 to age 82 were surveyed by the University of Melbourne. Over 97% of those adults who wore their hearing aids for at least 18 months reported a stabilization or even reversal of that mental decline.
That’s a nearly universal improvement, just from using hearing aids. That tells us a couple of things:
- Helping you remain social is one of the primary functions of any set of hearing aids. And your brain stays more involved when you are social. When you can hear conversations it’s much more enjoyable to hang out with your friends.
- Stimulation is integral to your mental health, so that means anything that helps your auditory cortex stay active when it otherwise wouldn’t be, is probably advantageous. This area of your brain will stay vital and healthy as long as you keep hearing ( with help from hearing aids).
Sudoko is Still a Good Idea
This new research out of the University of Melbourne isn’t an outlier. Numerous studies appear to back up the notion that hearing aids can help reduce mental decline, particularly when that decline would be accelerated by untreated hearing loss. But many individuals have hearing loss and just don’t recognize it. The symptoms can sneak up on you. So it’s worth making an appointment with your hearing specialist if you’ve been feeling a little forgetful, spacey, or stressed.
That hearing aids are so effective doesn’t necessarily mean you should quit doing Sudoku or other brain games. Keeping your brain agile and engaged in numerous different ways can help expand the overall cognitive strength of your executive functions. Exercising and keeping cognitively fit can be assisted by both hearing aids and brain games.