Hearing. It’s something we take for granted – until it starts to fade.
The ability to hear sounds, especially voices, helps us get through each day. But it’s not just our hearing that we rely on to communicate with others.
Think about when you’re trying to listen to someone speak in a noisy room. You might struggle to catch every word, but somehow, you’re able to pick up the gist of the conversation. That’s because you’re using different contextual cues and memories to understand what’s being said. We lip-read and take notice of how people are saying things, their expressions.
Your brain is hard at work, adjusting to each situation. Helping you fill in the gaps where your ears aren’t able to.
Cognitive hearing and the science of hearing: how your brain helps you hear
The science of cognitive hearing focuses on the impact cognition plays in helping people hear and understand speech.
Cognition is ‘the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses.’
When we lose our hearing, we also lose important information our brain needs to process and understand the world. If hearing loss is not addressed, it can affect our long-term memory.
There’s also some evidence that this decline can lead to dementia.
Recent research has shown that the risk of developing dementia of the Alzheimer’s type during a 10-year period of follow-up studies increased by a factor of 4 to 5 for people with moderate to severe hearing impairments.
Even a slight hearing loss can increase your chances of cognitive decline.
How hearing aids help you stay healthy
The relationship between hearing loss and dementia is complex. But recent research has linked hearing loss to a faster decline in brain function.
Part of the picture is that hearing loss often leads to social isolation. Even a mild hearing loss can cause some people to avoid situations where they have to strain to hear people speak. Think about how hard it is trying to have a conversation in a noisy restaurant or cafe.
That’s where hearing aids can really make a difference. Staying active, socialising, and being part of a community are important for our quality of life.
Taking action on hearing loss early makes a real difference
In Australia, around 3.6 million people have hearing loss.
For many, it’s simply a natural result of aging. For some, working in noisy environments has been a big contributor.
And while hearing loss affects people in all aspects of their daily life, people wait for up to 10 years to do something about it. That’s a long time struggling to hear loved ones, or trying to compensate for a loss of hearing at work.
It can really take its toll on both physical and mental health.
At My Hearing, we recommend everyone should have their hearing checked regularly – at least every few years once you’re over 50 years of age. Make it part of your overall health check.
So, if you haven’t had a hearing test recently, please get in touch and make an appointment. Or as a first step, take our free online hearing test.
If you have any questions, please give us a call on 1300 970 558.