Sudoku is a worldwide, popular puzzle game, in large part because of its simplicity. All you need in order to play is a few grids, a pencil, and some numbers. A very enjoyable way to pass some time, for many people, is a soduku puzzle book. That it gives your brain a workout is an added perk.
It’s become popular to use “brain workouts” to tackle mental decline. But Sudoku isn’t the only way to delay cognitive recession. At times, your brain needs a boost in mental stimulation and research has revealed that hearing aids may be able to fill that role.
What is Cognitive Decline?
Your brain is a “use it or lose it” organ. Without stimulation, neural pathways have the tendency to fizzle. That’s why Sudoku tends to keep you mentally active: it causes your brain to think, to creatively develop and reinforce a plethora of neural pathways.
While some mental decline is a natural part of aging, there are some things that can hasten or worsen that decline. An especially formidable danger for your mental health, as an example, is hearing loss. When your hearing starts to diminish, two things take place that powerfully impact your brain:
- You hear less: When you have less sound input, your auditory cortex (the part of your brain that deals with everything related to hearing) gets diminished stimulation. This can cause changes in your brain (in some cases, for example, your brain begins to prioritize visual stimuli; but that isn’t true for everybody). A higher risk of cognitive decline has been connected to these changes.
- You go out less: Self isolation is a very detrimental behavior, but that’s exactly what some individuals do when they suffer from hearing loss. As your hearing loss increases, it might just seem simpler to stay inside to escape conversation. This can deprive your brain of even more stimulation.
These two things, when put together, can cause your brain to change in major ways. Memory loss, trouble concentrating, and eventually a higher danger of dementia have been related to this kind of cognitive decline.
Is Cognitive Decline Reversable With Hearing Aids?
So if your hearing loss is ignored, this type of mental decline can be the consequence. This means that the number one way to reverse those declines is pretty clear: address your hearing loss! Usually, this means new hearing aids.
The amount that hearing aids can slow mental decline is both surprising and well-substantiated. Approximately 100 people with hearing loss from the age of 62 to age 82 were surveyed 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 mental decline.
That’s an almost universal improvement, simply from using hearing aids. We can learn a couple of things from this:
- One of the principal functions of hearing aids is to keep you in your social circle. And the more social you are, the more engaged your brain remains. When you can follow conversations it’s much more fun to hang out with your friends.
- Discovering ways to activate your auditory cortex would be advantageous because stimulation is essential to mental health. As long as you keep hearing (assisted by hearing aids), this essential region of your brain will remain stimulated, active, and healthy.
Doesn’t Mean Sudoku is a Bad Idea
The University of Melbourne research isn’t an outlier. Study after study seems to back the notion that hearing aids can help reduce cognitive decline, particularly when that decline would be hastened by neglected hearing loss. But many people have hearing loss and just don’t recognize it. You might not even recognize the early symptoms. So it’s worth scheduling an appointment with your hearing specialist if you’ve been feeling a little forgetful, spacey, or strained.
You should still continue doing Sudoko and other brain games. Keeping your brain nimble and engaged in a number of different ways can help broaden the overall cognitive strength of your executive functions. Both hearing aids and Sudoku can help you exercise your brain and keep yourself mentally fit.