The Hearing Loss Association of America says that more than 48 million Americans have lost some of their hearing today. These people are also at a greater risk for developing dementia too. This is especially true for those who are 60 – 69-years-old. Many people are surprised by this because they believe that losing their hearing is simply a part of growing older. Recent, highly regarded studies suggest that we shouldn’t simply brush this aside anymore since treating hearing loss people may be able to prevent the onset of dementia.
In 2011 Dr. Lin studied 639 people whom he considered “cognitively smart.” He tested their cognitive abilities on a routine basis for a 12 – 18-year period. In doing so he discovered that people whose hearing was really bad initially had more of a tendency to develop dementia by the end of the study. In fact, they were at three times a greater risk for doing so when compared to people with “normal” hearing.
In 2013 Dr. Lin spent 6 years tracking 2,000 people’s cognitive abilities of those around 77-years-old. He discovered that people who started the study with severe hearing loss were 24% more likely to have diminished cognitive abilities by the end of it. They thus concluded that when a person loses their hearing their cognitive abilities also start declining.
Understanding the Connection
When asked why there’s a connection here, Dr. Lin says there are four possible reasons. These include:
- Conditions like high blood pressure commonly act as a physiological pathway that contributes to both conditions. However, his research took these factors into consideration so he doesn’t believe this is a valid explanation.
- “Cognitive load” is another possibility. What this means is when you must continually find yourself straining to understand what’s being said around you, you’re putting stress on your brain. This makes sense because this effort uses resources that you could otherwise use for cognition. He’s even been able to document this happening on a short-term basis.
- It’s possible that hearing loss affects your brain’s structure in such a way that it causes cognitive issues. This is backed up by the fact that older adults who’ve lost their hearing have less gray matter in the area of their brain that receives and processes sound.
- Social isolation more than likely plays a part here. When you’re disabled by your hearing loss you’ll become isolated because it’s too hard to follow conversation when you’re in a group of people. There have been numerous studies recognizing the fact that social isolation often results in things like depression, cognitive decline, and even dementia.
Seeking the Treatment You Need
If you’re suffering from hearing loss, you deserve to get the best possible treatment since this can affect your mental and cognitive health as well. You may be surprised to learn that you don’t even need a hearing aid, but you’ll never know until you contact Countryside Hearing Aid Services so they can set up an appointment to start helping you today.
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