We all put things off, routinely talking ourselves out of stressful or uncomfortable tasks in favor of something more enjoyable or fun. Distractions are all around as we tell ourselves that we will sooner or later get around to whatever we’re presently working hard to avoid.
Often times, procrastination is relatively harmless. We might hope to clean out the basement, for example, by tossing or donating the items we rarely use. A clean basement sounds good, but the work of actually lugging things to the donation center is not so pleasant. In the concern of short-term pleasure, it’s very easy to notice countless alternatives that would be more enjoyable—so you put it off.
In other cases, procrastination is not so innocuous, and when it pertains to hearing loss, it could be downright harmful. While no one’s idea of a good time is having a hearing test, current research indicates that neglected hearing loss has major physical, mental, and social consequences.
To understand why, you have to begin with the effects of hearing loss on the brain itself. Here’s a popular comparison: if any of you have ever broken a bone, let’s say your leg, you are aware of what happens just after you take the cast off. You’ve lost muscle volume and strength from inactivity, because if you don’t consistently make use of your muscles, they get weaker.
The same happens with your brain. If you under-utilize the part of your brain that processes sound, your ability to process auditory information becomes weaker. Scientists even have a term for this: they refer to it as “auditory deprivation.”
Back to the broken leg example. Let’s say you took the cast off your leg but continued to not use the muscles, relying on crutches to get around the same as before. What would happen? Your leg muscles would get steadily weaker. The same happens with your brain; the longer you go with hearing loss, the less sound stimulation your brain gets, and the more impaired your hearing gets.
That, in essence, is auditory deprivation, which produces a host of additional ailments the latest research is continuing to uncover. For example, a study conducted by Johns Hopkins University reported that those with hearing loss experience a 40% decline in cognitive function compared to those with normal hearing, in combination with an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia.
General cognitive decline also brings about major mental and social effects. A major study by The National Council on the Aging (NCOA) detected that those with neglected hearing loss were much more likely to report depression, anxiety, and paranoia, and were less likely to take part in social activities, compared to those who wear hearing aids.
So what starts out as an aggravation—not having the capability hear people clearly—brings about a downward spiral that impacts all aspects of your health. The sequence of events is clear: Hearing loss brings about auditory deprivation, which leads to general cognitive decline, which leads to psychological harm, including depression and anxiety, which in the end leads to social isolation, damaged relationships, and an enhanced risk of developing major medical ailments.
The Benefits of Hearing Aids
So that was the bad news. The good news is just as encouraging. Let’s visit the broken leg illustration one more time. Once the cast comes off, you begin exercising and stimulating the muscles, and over time, you recover your muscle mass and strength.
The same process once again applies to hearing. If you enhance the stimulation of sound to your brain with hearing aids, you can recover your brain’s ability to process and understand sound. This leads to better communication, better psychological health, and ultimately to better relationships. And, in fact, as reported by The National Council on the Aging, hearing aid users report improvements in almost every aspect of their lives.
Are you ready to achieve the same improvement?