A study from the UK suggests hearing aids may help minimize cognitive decline stemming from untreated hearing loss.
One in three American adults ages 65 to 74 have hearing loss, while nearly 50% of adults over the age of 75 have some difficulty hearing, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health. Manatee Ear Center in Bradenton, Florida offers a number of hearing devices (like the new Oticon Siya) that can help improve your listening experiences – and life!
The study conducted by researchers at the University of Sheffield collected data on nearly 7,400 adults age 50 and older – none of whom had been diagnosed with dementia or cognitive decline or had hearing implants. About 40% of these subjects experienced mild hearing loss, while 10% had severe loss. Just 11% of the individuals in the study wore hearing aids.
Of those who do not wear hearing aids, the study found those with hearing loss in the mild to moderate category scored lower on memory tests than those with perfect hearing. Although some brain “shrinkage” is a normal part of aging, other studies have shown that senior citizens with hearing loss lose brain matter at accelerated rates. As parts of the brain associated with hearing are not utilized for that purpose due to hearing loss, they can essentially die off from a lack of use.
Fortunately, individuals who wore hearing aids scored higher on the assessments than their peers who did not take action to correct their hearing loss.
Researchers surmised that the social isolation that can occur in older adults with untreated hearing loss may play a role in the deterioration of the neural networks in the brain used in the hearing process. As they age, seniors who live alone and have high blood pressure are particularly at risk for cognitive decline. Wearing hearing aids may help stave off the reduction in brain function.