Because it’s simple, soduku is one of the world’s most popular puzzle games. Some numbers, a pencil, and a few grids are all you need. For many people, a Sudoku puzzle book is a pleasant way to pass the hours. That it gives your brain a workout is an added bonus.
It’s become popular to use “brain workouts” to deal with cognitive decline. But Sudoku isn’t the only method of delaying cognitive recession. Often, your brain needs a boost in mental stimulation and research has demonstrated that hearing aids might be capable of filling that role.
Mental Decline, What is it?
Your brain has a rather use-it-or-lose-it disposition. Neural connections will fizzle out without appropriate stimulation. That’s why Sudoku tends to keep you mentally active: it forces your brain to think, to creatively develop and reinforce numerous neural pathways.
While some mental decline is a normal process associated with aging, there are some variables that can accelerate or quicken that decline. Hearing loss, as an example, can present an especially formidable peril for your mental health. When your hearing starts to decline, two things occur that powerfully affect your brain:
- You hear less: There’s not as much sound going in to stimulate your auditory cortex (the hearing focus of the brain). Your brain could end up changing in a way that causes it to prioritize other senses like sight. These changes have been linked to an increased danger of cognitive decline.
- You don’t go out as much: Neglected hearing loss can cause some people to self-isolate in a detrimental way. As your hearing loss progresses, it may just seem simpler to stay home to avoid conversation. This can rob your brain of even more input.
Together, these two things can be the cause of a major change in your brain. Loss of memory, trouble concentrating, and ultimately a higher risk of dementia have been connected to this type of cognitive decline.
Is Cognitive Decline Reversable With Hearing Aids?
So, this cognitive decline happens because your hearing loss is going untreated. This means that the best way to treat those declines is fairly clear: deal with your hearing impairment! Usually, this means new hearing aids.
It’s well corroborated and also surprising the degree that hearing aids can slow down cognitive decline. Researchers at the University of Melbourne interviewed approximately 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 revealed a stabilization or even reversal of that mental decline.
That’s a nearly universal improvement, just from using hearing aids. We can learn a couple of things from this:
- Stimulation is integral to your mental health, so that means anything that keeps your auditory cortex active when it otherwise wouldn’t be, is most likely helpful. This area of your brain will continue to be healthy and vital as long as you continue to hear ( with assistance from hearing aids).
- Helping you remain social is one of the primary functions of any pair of hearing aids. And the more social you are, the more involved your brain stays. It’s easier (and more fun) to hang with your friends when you can follow the conversation!
Sudoko is Still a Smart Idea
The University of Melbourne research isn’t the only one of it’s kind. If you have untreated hearing loss, many studies have demonstrated that using hearing aids can help decrease cognitive decline. The problem is that not everyone recognizes that they have hearing loss. The symptoms can sneak up on you. So it’s worth making an appointment with your hearing specialist if you’ve been feeling a bit spacey, forgetful, or stressed.
That hearing aids are so successful doesn’t automatically mean you should quit doing Sudoku or other brain games. They keep your brain fresh and flexible and give you better overall cognitive function. Exercising and keeping cognitively fit can be helped by both hearing aids and brain games.