Healthy Aging Starts with Your Brain

By W.L. “Hunter” Huntley, III, HAS, BC-HIS

Healthy Aging Starts with Your BrainWhen most people think of healthy aging, healthy brain function is not usually the first subject that comes to mind. However, keeping your brain “properly” stimulated is one way to ward off maladies such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Our brain is the most complicated and delicate organ of the body. Therefore, it needs constant stimulation. Crossword puzzles, reading, number calculations, and other forms of “mental” gymnastics are all forms of brain exercises.

However, the most important part of our brain for speech interpretation is the auditory cortex. Our brains need constant “proper” stimulation to stay sharp. Like our muscles, lack of exercise leads to atrophy. Since brain atrophy is the damage or loss of brain cells, there is no treatment available to cure this complication. This means that the illness must be prevented with the use of hearing devices and a healthy, active lifestyle.

This shows more reasons why hearing loss treatment should not be overlooked. When worn consistently, hearing devices stimulate and keep our brain sharp. Hearing instrument wearers will also experience an overall since of well-being and confidence; more than individuals that do not seek hearing solutions.

Those who wear hearing instruments also tend to be more active socially, report to be more intimate with loved ones, and have a greater earning potential on average. This is sometimes due to a perceived indifference to directions from co-workers or supervisors to perform certain tasks, or perhaps not hearing the instructions or directions at all. In the long run hearing impairments cost workers millions of dollars per year across the country. Over the course of a lifetime hearing loss if not addressed could change a family’s lifestyle drastically.

Men are more likely to suffer from hearing loss for a number of reasons; including industrial noise, military service, power tools, airplane, car, and boat engines. Lawnmowers, leaf blowers, chainsaws, firearms, and loud music are also devastating to the nerves of the inner ear.

Hearing loss is also associated with a three times higher risk of injury causing falls and more frequent, longer hospitalization stays. Those with hearing impairment also have a higher risk of depression in adults of all ages, especially women under 70 years of age. Low frequency hearing loss is also linked to a higher risk of cerebrovascular and cardiovascular issues. Twenty one percent of diabetics have a hearing loss, compared to nine percent of non-diabetics.

Those with untreated hearing loss suffer from a multitude of maladies, including isolation, paranoia, worry, anxiety, sadness, emotional turmoil, insecurity, less social activity, memory loss, and less intimacy with loved ones, among others. Hearing problems can also be caused by certain chemotherapy medications used to treat cancer. There are also over two hundred prescription medications that may cause permanent hearing impairment: aka ototoxic drugs.

Generally, we tend to lose hearing in the higher frequencies (consonants) first: where clarification of speech occurs. When the higher frequencies deteriorate, a person can still hear, but interpreting what is said becomes a problem. Many individuals with a high frequency loss do not even realize a problem exists, because they still hear low frequency sounds (vowels) normally, but cannot understand what is being said.
Johns Hopkins Medical University, in conjunction with the Perelman’s Medical School at the University of Pennsylvania, and the National Institute on Aging recently completed studies on individuals who have hearing loss, but do not wear hearing instruments. The study concluded people with even mild hearing loss were twice as likely to contract dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Those with severe hearing impairment are five times as likely to suffer from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. This occurs because the auditory cortex is not “properly” stimulated, causing atrophy and loss of function. We hear with our brain!

Alzheimer’s is not just a combination of physical and emotional crisis; it is a financial burden for life!

The National Speech and Hearing Institute recommends annual hearing exams for individuals fifty five years of age or older, or if you suspect there might be a deterioration in hearing overall. Just like annual exams for vision, hearing exams should be included in our desire to maintain the best health possible. Hearing care is healthcare.

Hearing instrument technology has improved drastically in the last few years. Individuals with hearing loss can obtain devices that will best suit their daily activities and lifestyle. Early detection is the key to overcoming any health issues.

Free Hearing Evaluation
If you or a loved one find yourself having difficulty understanding conversations or speech, call for a FREE hearing examination and consultation.

Call 997-8288 to set up an appointment.  www.leonardihearing.com.

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