Sudoku is a worldwide, popular puzzle game, largely because of its simplicity. All you require to play is some grids, a pencil, and some numbers. A very relaxing way to pass some hours, for many, is a soduku puzzle book. That it’s a workout for your brain is an added perk.
It’s becoming popular to use “brain workouts” to manage mental decline. But there are other ways of slowing mental decline. Sometimes, your brain requires a boost in mental stimulation and research has revealed that hearing aids could be capable of filling that role.
What is Cognitive Decline?
Your brain has a truly 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 forces your brain to think, to creatively develop and strengthen a plethora of neural pathways.
While some mental decline is a normal process associated with aging, there are some variables that can hasten or exacerbate that decline. A really potent hazard for your mental health, as an example, is hearing loss. Two things take place that really affect your brain when your hearing begins to go:
- You can’t hear as well: When you have less sound input, your auditory cortex (the region of your brain responsible for all things related to hearing) gets diminished stimulation. This can cause alterations to your brain (in some circumstances, for instance, your brain starts to prioritize visual stimuli; but that isn’t true for everyone). These changes have been linked to a higher risk of cognitive decline.
- You go out less: Untreated hearing loss can cause some people to self-isolate in an unhealthy way. Staying in to steer clear of conversations might seem easier than going out and feeling self-conscious (specifically as your untreated hearing loss worsens). This can deprive your brain of even more input.
These two things, when combined, can cause your brain to change in significant ways. Loss of memory, difficulty concentrating, and ultimately a higher risk of dementia have been connected to this sort 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 pretty obvious: deal with your hearing impairment! Normally, this means new hearing aids.
The degree to which hearing aids can slow mental decline is both unexpected and well-corroborated. Experts at the University of Melbourne interviewed around 100 adults between the ages of 62-82, all of whom had some kind of hearing loss. Over 97% of those adults who used their hearing aids for at least 18 months reported a stabilization or even reversal of that mental decline.
Just wearing hearing aids resulted in a nearly universal improvement. That tells us a couple of things:
- Finding ways to keep your auditory cortex active would be helpful because stimulation is essential to mental health. As long as you keep hearing (assisted by hearing aids), this essential region of your brain will continue to be stimulated, active, and healthy.
- One of the main functions of hearing aids is to keep you in your social circle. And your brain stays more engaged when you stay social. When you can hear conversations it’s much more fun to socialize with your friends.
Sudoko is Still a Good Idea
This new research from the University of Melbourne isn’t an outlier. If you have neglected hearing loss, countless studies have shown that using hearing aids can help slow mental decline. But many people have hearing loss and just don’t recognize it. The symptoms can take you by surprise. So it’s worth scheduling an appointment with your hearing specialist if you’ve been feeling a bit forgetful, spacey, or strained.
That hearing aids are so successful doesn’t automatically mean you should give up on your Sudoku or other brain games. They keep your brain refreshed and pliable and give you better overall cognitive function. Exercising and keeping mentally fit can be helped by both hearing aids and brain games.