24 Nov Hearing & Cognitive Decline
Hearing can protect you against unnecessary cognitive decline
Recent research has shown that adults who develop age-related hearing loss have a higher chance of cognitive decline. While there’s currently no treatment that can cure or reverse the loss of cognitive functions like memory, researchers have identified a range of factors that may help protect against it. One of those factors is mental stimulation.
The simple habit of staying mentally active as you age is crucial for maintaining a healthy brain.
People who regularly engage in mentally stimulating activates (like group discussions, listening to lectures, going to theatre and hearing the news or documentaries) are far less likely to develop mild cognitive impairment and thereby reduce the risk of dementia.
Hearing, listening and understanding is an extremely mentally stimulating activity and a very easy way to engage in life changing habits that can be crucial to preventing unnecessarily early onset of cognitive decline.
Unfortunately, hearing loss is one of the most common health problems in relation to aging, affecting over two-thirds of people who are over the age of 70. The impaired ability to hear may be the trigger for cognitive decline in many of these people.
Researchers looked at data taken from 6,451 adults who were all around the age of 59. They were enrolled in two epidemiologic studies before being led through both hearing and cognitive tests. They found that for every 10 dB decrease in hearing, there was also a significant decrease in the subject’s cognitive ability. Worrying was the discovery that the largest decrease in cognitive ability was seen in those whose hearing was only beginning to become impaired.
Most people with hearing loss think they can go on with their lives without treatment and perhaps miss out on a few conversations here and there. But hearing loss is insidious and, if left untreated, can lead to social isolation, depression, cognitive decline, and dementia. It is vital that hearing loss is treated earlier rather than later.
It is reasonably suggested that that people who don’t hear well end up socializing less and, as a result, have fewer stimulating conversations. Over many years, this could have a negative impact on cognition. It is very possible that treating hearing loss with appropriate hearing aids will be able to slow cognitive decline in older people with age-related hearing loss.
There will need to be more studies conducted in this field to be sure of whether or not hearing aids can prevent the loss of cognitive abilities, but one thing’s for sure – if you’re noticing that hearing is requiring more effort, it is time to have your hearing checked.