Because of its simplicity, soduku is a globally popular puzzle game. Some numbers, a pencil, and a few grids are all you need. For many individuals, a Sudoku puzzle book is a relaxing way to pass the hours. It’s an added perk that it strengthens your brain.
It’s become popular to use “brain workouts” to manage cognitive decline. But there are other means of delaying mental decline. Sometimes, your brain needs a boost in mental activation and studies have revealed that hearing aids may be capable of filling that role.
What is Cognitive Decline?
Your brain is a “use it or lose it” organ. Neural pathways will fizzle out without proper stimulation. That’s why Sudoku tends to keep you mentally active: it causes your brain to think, to creatively make and reinforce a plethora of neural pathways.
While some mental decline is a normal part of aging, there are some variables that can speed up or worsen that decline. Hearing loss, for example, can provide a really potent peril for your cognitive health. Two things occur that powerfully affect your brain when your hearing starts to wain:
- You hear less: There is less sound going in to activate your auditory cortex (the hearing focus of the brain). This can cause alterations to your brain (in some situations, for example, your brain starts to prioritize visual information; but that’s not true for everyone). A higher risk of cognitive decline has been associated with these changes.
- You don’t go out as much: Self isolation is a very unhealthy behavior, but that’s exactly what some individuals do when they have hearing loss. As your hearing loss increases, it may just seem simpler to stay inside to escape conversation. This can deprive your brain of even more stimulation.
Combined, these two factors can cause a significant change in your brain. Memory loss, problems concentrating, and ultimately a higher risk of dementia have been related to this kind of cognitive decline.
Can Hearing Aids Reverse Declines?
So, this mental decline occurs because your hearing loss is going untreated. This means that the best way to treat those declines is fairly clear: treat your hearing loss! Normally, this means new hearing aids.
The degree to which hearing aids can slow cognitive decline is both unexpected and well-substantiated. Scientists at the University of Melbourne interviewed about 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 cognitive decline.
Just using hearing aids brought about a nearly universal improvement. We can learn a couple of things from this:
- Helping you remain social is one of the key functions of any set of hearing aids. And the more social you are, the more engaged your brain stays. It’s easier (and more enjoyable) to hang with your friends when you can follow the conversation!
- Stimulation is key to your mental health, so that means anything that keeps your auditory cortex active when it normally wouldn’t be, is most likely beneficial. This region of your brain will stay healthy and vital as long as you keep hearing ( with assistance from hearing aids).
Doesn’t Mean Sudoku is a Bad Idea
The University of Melbourne study isn’t the only one of it’s kind. If you have untreated hearing loss, countless studies have shown that using hearing aids can help slow down mental decline. But many people have hearing loss and just aren’t aware of it. The symptoms can sneak up on you. So if you’re feeling strained, forgetful, or even a bit spacier than usual, it might be worth talking with your hearing specialist.
You should still keep doing Sudoko and other brain games. Keeping your brain agile and engaged in a number of different ways can help broaden the overall cognitive strength of your executive functions. Working your brain out and keeping mentally fit can be assisted by both hearing aids and brain games.