Sudoku is a worldwide, popular puzzle game, mainly because of its simplicity. Some numbers, a pencil, and a few grids are all that’s required. For many people, a Sudoku puzzle book is a relaxing way to pass the time. That it gives your brain a workout is an additional bonus.
“Brain workouts” have become a popular way of addressing cognitive decline. But there are other ways of slowing down cognitive decline. Recent studies have demonstrated that hearing aids may be able to provide your brain with a nice little boost in mental stimulation, slowing down the progression of cognitive decline.
What is Cognitive Decline?
Your brain has a rather use-it-or-lose-it disposition. Without stimulus, neural pathways will fizzle. Your brain has to forge and strengthen neural pathways, that’s the reason why Sudoku works, it keeps you mentally active.
While a certain amount of mental decline is a normal process associated with aging, there are some variables that can accelerate or worsen that decline. A really potent hazard for your cognitive health, for instance, is hearing loss. When your hearing begins to decline, two things happen that really affect your brain:
- You can’t hear as well: When you have less sound input, your auditory cortex (the region of your brain that deals with everything related to hearing) receives diminished stimulation. Your brain could end up changing in a way that makes it prioritize other senses like sight. Increased risk of cognitive decline has been associated with 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 suffer from hearing loss. As your hearing loss increases, it might just seem simpler to stay inside to avoid conversation. This can deprive your brain of even more input.
These two things, when combined, can cause your brain to change in major ways. This mental decline has frequently been connected to memory loss, difficulty concentrating, and (over time) greater danger of mental illness including dementia.
Is Cognitive Decline Reversable With Hearing Aids?
So, this cognitive decline occurs because your hearing loss is going untreated. And it’s fairly obvious what you need to do to reverse these declines: have your hearing impairment treated. For most people with hearing loss, that means a brand new pair of well-calibrated hearing aids.
The amount that hearing aids can slow mental decline is both surprising and well-corroborated. Experts at the University of Melbourne surveyed around 100 adults between the ages of 62-82, all of whom had some form 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 cognitive decline.
That’s an almost universal improvement, simply from wearing hearing aids. 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 your brain stays more engaged when you stay social. When you can understand conversations it’s a lot more fun to talk with your friends.
- Finding ways to activate your auditory cortex would be helpful because stimulation is essential to mental health. This portion of your brain will continue to be 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 research isn’t the only one of it’s kind. If you have untreated hearing loss, many studies have revealed that wearing hearing aids can help slow down cognitive decline. The issue is that not everybody recognizes that they have hearing loss. You may not even notice the early signs. So it’s worth scheduling an appointment with your hearing specialist if you’ve been feeling a little spacey, forgetful, or stressed.
That hearing aids are so successful doesn’t automatically mean you should quit doing Sudoku or other brain games. Keeping your brain nimble and involved in numerous different ways can help expand the overall cognitive strength of your executive functions. Both hearing aids and Sudoku can help you work out your brain and keep yourself cognitively fit.