HEARING LOSS & COGNITIVE DECLINE
A RECENT STUDY
Older adults with hearing loss have a rate of cognitive decline that is up to 40% faster than the rate in those with normal hearing, according to results of a new study. Those with hearing loss also appear to have a greater risk for cognitive impairment.
Possible explanation of cognitive decline and hearing loss include:
Social Isolation - Loneliness - Exhaustion
UNTREATED HEARING LOSS HAS DIRECT LINK TO DEMENTIA
Most of us feel that interactions with family and friends are a source of positive and gratifying emotions, an important part of the quality of life we experience. When the ability to interact is compromised by cognitive decline, some part of the quality of life is lost.
It is not surprising that dementia and Alzheimer’s are a worry for aging adults. Further, the risk escalates as a person's hearing loss grows worse. Those with mild hearing impairment are nearly twice as likely to develop dementia compared to those with normal hearing. The risk increases three-fold for those with moderate hearing loss, and five-fold for those with severe impairment. Specifically, the risk of dementia increases among those with a hearing loss greater than 25 decibels. For study participants over the age of 60, 36 percent of the risk for dementia was associated with hearing loss.
Possible explanations for the cognitive slide, based on a recent study, include the ties between hearing loss and social isolation, with loneliness being well established in previous research as a risk factor for cognitive decline. Degraded hearing may also force the brain to devote too much of its energy to processing sound, and at the expense of energy spent on memory and thinking.
Johns Hopkins Medical Center research: Hearing loss can increase your risk for developing dementia by 200-500%. New research from Columbia University finds that hearing aids can reduce the risk.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Generally speaking, hearing loss develops slowly. Our brain's own ability to compensate and adjust to gradual hearing changes makes hearing loss difficult to recognize. That's why it's extremely important to have annual hearing evaluations. Experts encourage people as young as 45 to have a baseline hearing screening. Catching and treating hearing loss early can slow, or stop, its progression. Taking time to monitor your hearing may save many problems as you get older, you'll preserve more good hearing for life!