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 that’s required. A very pleasant way to pass some time, for many, is a soduku puzzle book. That it’s a workout for your brain is an added bonus.
It’s become popular to use “brain workouts” to deal with cognitive decline. But there are other methods of slowing down mental decline. Often, your brain requires a boost in mental stimulation and studies have shown that hearing aids could be able to fill that role.
What is Cognitive Decline?
Your brain is a “use it or lose it” organ. Without stimulation, neural pathways tend to fizzle. That’s why Sudoku tends to keep you mentally active: it causes your brain to think, to creatively forge and strengthen a plethora of neural pathways.
There are a few things that will speed up the process that would be an ordinary amount of mental decline associated with aging. An especially formidable danger for your cognitive health, as an example, is hearing loss. Two things take place that really affect your brain when your hearing begins to wain:
- You can’t hear as well: When you have less sound input, your auditory cortex (the region of your brain that deals with all things hearing-related) receives weakened stimulation. Your brain might end up changing in a way that makes it prioritize other senses like sight. These changes have been connected to a higher risk of cognitive decline.
- You go out less: Untreated hearing loss can cause some individuals to self-isolate in an unhealthy way. As your hearing loss increases, it might just seem simpler to stay home to escape conversation. This can deprive your brain of even more stimulation.
Combined, these two things can be the cause of a significant change in your brain. This cognitive decline has commonly been connected to loss of memory, trouble concentrating, and (in the long term) higher risk of mental illness such as dementia.
Will Hearing Aids Reverse Declines?
So if your hearing loss is overlooked, this kind of cognitive decline can be the outcome. This means that the best way to treat those declines is fairly clear: treat your hearing loss! For the majority of people with hearing loss, that means a brand new pair of well-calibrated hearing aids.
It’s well substantiated and also surprising the degree that hearing aids can slow down cognitive decline. Scientists at the University of Melbourne interviewed around 100 adults between the ages of 62-82, all of whom had some form of hearing loss. Among those adults who used their hearing aids for at least 18 months, over 97% said that their mental decline either stopped or reversed.
That’s a nearly universal improvement, just from wearing hearing aids. That tells us a couple of things:
- One of the principal functions of hearing aids is to help you stay social. And your brain stays more engaged when you stay social. When you can understand conversations it’s much more fun to hang out with your friends.
- Finding ways to keep your auditory cortex active would be helpful because stimulation is essential to mental health. As long as you continue to hear (with the assistance of hearing aids), this major region of your brain will continue to be stimulated, dynamic, and healthy.
Doesn’t Mean Sudoku is a Bad Idea
This new study from the University of Melbourne isn’t the only one of it’s kind. Numerous studies appear to back the notion that hearing aids can help slow cognitive decline, especially when that decline would be accelerated by untreated hearing loss. The dilemma is that not everyone knows that they have hearing loss. The symptoms can take you by surprise. So if you’re feeling strained, forgetful, or even a bit spacier than usual, it may be worth talking with your hearing specialist.
That hearing aids are so effective doesn’t necessarily mean you should give up on your Sudoku or other brain games. Keeping your brain nimble and engaged in a number of different ways can help expand the total cognitive strength of your executive functions. Both hearing aids and Sudoku can help you work out your brain and keep yourself cognitively fit.