Sudoku is a worldwide, popular puzzle game, largely because of its simplicity. A pencil, some numbers, and a few grids are all you need. A very enjoyable way to pass some hours, for many, is a soduku puzzle book. That it gives your brain a workout is an added bonus.
It’s becoming popular to use “brain workouts” to tackle cognitive decline. But there are other methods of delaying mental decline. Current research has revealed that hearing aids might be capable of providing your brain with a little boost in mental activation, slowing the advancement of cognitive decline.
What is Cognitive Decline?
Your brain is a “use it or lose it” organ. Neural pathways will fizzle out without proper stimulus. That’s the reason why Sudoku has a tendency to keep you mentally active: it forces your brain to think, to creatively make and strengthen numerous neural pathways.
There are some things that will speed up the process that would be a normal amount of mental decline connected with getting older. A particularly formidable hazard for your mental health, as an example, is hearing loss. When your hearing begins to diminish, two things happen that really affect your brain:
- You hear less: When you have less sound input, your auditory cortex (the region of your brain that deals with everything hearing-related) receives weakened stimulation. This can cause alterations to your brain (in some circumstances, for instance, your brain begins to prioritize visual stimuli; but that’s not true for everyone). A higher risk of cognitive decline has been connected to these changes.
- You don’t go out as much: Self isolation is a very detrimental behavior, but that’s exactly what some people do when they have hearing loss. As your hearing loss progresses, it may just seem easier to stay inside to escape conversation. But this is a bad idea as it can rob your brain of that necessary stimulation.
These two things, when combined, can cause your brain to change in major ways. This cognitive decline has often been linked to loss of memory, problems concentrating, and (in the long term) greater risk of mental illness such as dementia.
Is Cognitive Decline Reversable With Hearing Aids?
So if your hearing loss is ignored, this kind of cognitive decline can be the outcome. And it’s pretty clear what needs to be done to reverse these declines: have your hearing impairment treated. In most cases, this means new hearing aids.
It’s well corroborated and also unexpected the extent that hearing aids can slow down mental decline. Approximately 100 people with hearing loss from the age of 62 to age 82 were interviewed by the University of Melbourne. Over 97% of those adults who wore their hearing aids for at least 18 months revealed a stabilization or even reversal of that cognitive decline.
That’s an almost universal improvement, just 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 beneficial. As long as you continue to hear (with the assistance of hearing aids), this vital area of your brain will remain stimulated, dynamic, and healthy.
- One of the principal functions of hearing aids is to help you stay social. And the more social you can be, the more involved your brain stays. It’s easier (and more enjoyable) to talk with your friends when you can understand the conversation!
Doesn’t Mean Sudoku is a Bad Idea
The University of Melbourne research isn’t an outlier. If you have neglected hearing loss, many studies have revealed that using hearing aids can help slow down mental decline. The dilemma is that not everyone knows that they have hearing loss. The symptoms can sneak up on you. So if you’re feeling strained, forgetful, or even a bit spacier than normal, it might be worth talking with your hearing specialist.
You should still continue doing Sudoko and other brain games. They keep your brain refreshed and flexible and give you stronger overall cognitive function. Both hearing aids and Sudoku can help you exercise your brain and keep yourself cognitively fit.