Because of its simplicity, soduku is one of the world’s most popular puzzle games. All you need to play is some grids, a pencil, and some numbers. A very relaxing way to pass some hours, for many, is a soduku puzzle book. It’s an additional bonus that it’s good for your brain.
It’s become popular to use “brain workouts” to tackle cognitive decline. But Sudoku isn’t the only method of delaying cognitive recession. Current studies have shown that hearing aids may be able to provide your brain with a little boost in mental stimulation, slowing down the advancement of mental decline.
What is Cognitive Decline?
Your brain has a very use-it-or-lose-it disposition. Neural pathways will fizzle out without proper stimulation. That’s the reason why Sudoku tends to keep you mentally active: it forces your brain to think, to creatively develop and strengthen numerous neural pathways.
While a certain amount of mental decline is a natural part of aging, there are some things that can accelerate or exacerbate that decline. A particularly potent danger for your cognitive health, for instance, is hearing loss. Two things happen that powerfully affect your brain when your hearing starts to wain:
- You can’t hear as well: There’s not as much sound going in to activate your auditory cortex (the hearing focus of the brain). This can cause alterations to your brain (in some cases, for instance, your brain begins to prioritize visual stimuli; but that’s not true for everyone). A higher risk of mental 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 have hearing loss. As your hearing loss increases, it may just seem easier to stay inside to avoid conversation. This can rob your brain of even more stimulation.
Together, these two factors can be the cause of a significant change in your brain. This mental decline has frequently been linked to memory loss, problems concentrating, and (in the long term) increased danger of mental disorders such as dementia.
Can Hearing Aids Reverse Declines?
So if your hearing loss is ignored, this kind of mental decline can be the outcome. And it’s fairly obvious what needs to be done to reverse these declines: get your hearing impairment treated. Usually, this means new hearing aids.
It’s well corroborated and also unexpected the extent that hearing aids can slow down cognitive decline. Scientists at the University of Melbourne surveyed approximately 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% revealed that their mental decline either stabilized or reversed.
Just wearing hearing aids brought about a nearly universal improvement. That tells us a couple of things:
- Helping you stay social is one of the primary functions of any pair of hearing aids. And the more social you are, the more involved your brain stays. It’s easier (and more enjoyable) to hang with your friends when you can understand the conversation!
- Stimulation is critical to your mental health, so that means anything that keeps your auditory cortex active when it otherwise wouldn’t be, is probably advantageous. This region of your brain will stay vital and healthy as long as you keep hearing ( with help from hearing aids).
Sudoko is Still a Smart Idea
The University of Melbourne research isn’t the only one of it’s kind. Study after study seems 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 everybody knows that they have hearing loss. You may not even recognize the early signs. So it’s worth making an appointment with your hearing specialist if you’ve been feeling a bit forgetful, spacey, or strained.
You should still keep doing Sudoko and other brain games. They keep your brain refreshed and flexible and give you better general cognitive function. Both hearing aids and Sudoku can help you work out your brain and keep yourself mentally fit.