Sudoku is one of the most popular puzzle games in the world, largely because of its simplicity. A pencil, some numbers, and a few grids are all that’s required. For many, a Sudoku puzzle book is a relaxing way to pass the hours. It’s an additional bonus that it strengthens your brain.
“Brain workouts” have become a popular way of addressing mental decline. But there are other methods of slowing down cognitive decline. Current studies have shown that hearing aids may be capable of providing your brain with a nice little boost in mental stimulation, reducing the progression of cognitive decline.
What is Cognitive Decline?
Your brain is a “use it or lose it” organ. Neural pathways will fizzle without proper stimulation. That’s the reason why Sudoku has a tendency to keep you mentally active: it forces your brain to think, to creatively make and reinforce a plethora of neural pathways.
While some mental decline is a normal process associated with aging, there are some variables that can accelerate or exacerbate that decline. A particularly formidable danger for your mental health, as an example, is hearing loss. When your hearing starts to decline, two things take place that really affect your brain:
- You can’t hear as well: With less sound input, your auditory cortex (the region of your brain that deals with everything related to hearing) gets reduced stimulation. Your brain may end up changing in a way that causes it to prioritize other senses like sight. These changes have been linked to an increased risk of mental decline.
- You don’t go out as much: 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 inside to avoid conversation. This can deprive your brain of even more input.
Together, these two things can cause a significant change in your brain. This cognitive decline has often been linked to loss of memory, problems concentrating, and (in the long term) higher risk of mental illness like dementia.
Will Hearing Aids Reverse Declines?
So if your hearing loss is ignored, this kind of mental decline can be the consequence. And it’s fairly obvious what you need to do to reverse these declines: get your hearing loss treated. Usually, this means new hearing aids.
The degree to which hearing aids can slow mental decline is both surprising and well-corroborated. Approximately 100 people with hearing loss from the age of 62 to age 82 were interviewed by the University of Melbourne. Among those adults who wore their hearing aids for at least 18 months, over 97% revealed that their cognitive decline either stopped or reversed.
That’s a nearly universal improvement, just from using hearing aids. We can learn a couple of things from this:
- Finding ways to activate your auditory cortex would be beneficial because stimulation is the key to mental health. As long as you continue to hear (assisted by hearing aids), this essential area of your brain will remain stimulated, dynamic, and healthy.
- One of the principal functions of hearing aids is to help you stay social. And your brain remains more engaged when you stay social. When you can hear conversations it’s a lot more fun to socialize with your friends.
Sudoko is Still a Smart Idea
The University of Melbourne study isn’t the only one of it’s kind. If you have neglected hearing loss, numerous studies have demonstrated that using hearing aids can help decrease mental decline. The difficulty is that not everyone knows that they have hearing loss. You might not even notice the early signs. So if you’re feeling strained, forgetful, or even a bit spacier than usual, it may be worth checking with your hearing specialist.
You should still continue doing Sudoko and other brain games. They keep your brain refreshed and flexible and give you stronger overall cognitive function. Both hearing aids and Sudoku can help you exercise your brain and keep yourself mentally fit.