Hearing Aids Mitigate Cognitive Decline in Older People

Jeff Baller, Au.D., CCC-A Hearing Aids, Hearing Health

Jeff Baller, Au.D., CCC-A
Latest posts by Jeff Baller, Au.D., CCC-A (see all)

Hearing loss makes it harder to communicate with family and friends. If you or a loved one has hearing loss, you’ve noticed that it’s hard to stay socially engaged, and enjoy spending time with friends. Not only does hearing loss make it hard to maintain your social life, hearing loss has also been linked to cognitive decline in older adults. Some declines in cognitive abilities are normal as we age, and we’ve all had moments where we wonder if we remembered to lock the front door. However, living with untreated hearing loss is linked to more rapid cognitive decline, and an earlier onset of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. 

Hearing Loss and Rapid Cognitive Decline

Hearing loss and rapid cognitive decline are closely linked. Hearing loss starts in the ears, with cell damage to the delicate cells in the inner ear. However, as you live with untreated hearing loss, the auditory centers of your brain aren’t receiving enough input about the sounds around you. This can create a lot of extra mental strain, as your brain works hard to piece together what’s being said. As you lose certain sounds altogether, the parts of the brain used to interpret those sounds aren’t involved in hearing, and they may be used for something else. This is an adaptive response, but this unfortunate case of use it or lose it, can lead to rapid cognitive decline and the loss of important cells in the brain. 

Hearing Loss and Brain Health

When you live with untreated hearing loss, your brain is under a lot of strain. A recent study by Jonathan Peelle at the University of Pennsylvania discovered that adults living with hearing loss have less gray matter in the auditory centers of the brain. Gray matter is the part of the brain that processes information, such as sensory information and muscle movement, and allows our bodies to function. 

With less gray matter in the auditory areas, Peelle found that older adults with hearing loss have less neural activity in these areas, even when straining to hear. Untreated hearing loss has a major effect on brain health and leads to cognitive decline. 

How to Mitigate Cognitive Decline with Hearing Aids

Another study conducted by Asri Maharani, PhD, from the University of Manchester, looked at how hearing aids can mitigate cognitive decline in older adults. The study analyzed data from memory tests of over 2,000 adults. These older adults took the memory tests every 2 years for 18 years, and the results were clear. Older adults who didn’t treat their hearing loss experienced more cognitive declines than adults who had hearing aids! 

When the seniors in Maharani’s study got hearing aids, they experienced less cognitive decline, and had a slower rate of decline than they’d had before wearing hearing aids. This study shows that hearing aids can mitigate cognitive decline in older adults, and lower your risk of dementia. 

Why You Should Treat Hearing Loss As Soon As Possible

Hearing aids can slow the rate of cognitive decline, and help you stay sharp as you age. However, hearing aids can’t reverse cognitive decline. If you wait many years before treating your hearing loss, your brain will change in ways that can’t be undone. Hearing aids can’t regenerate cells that have died, or replace gray matter in your brain.

That’s why it’s so important to treat your hearing loss as soon as possible. Hearing aids will mitigate cognitive decline, and help you maintain your brain health as you age. Quality hearing aids will help you hear all the sounds in your environment, and focus on conversations. You’ll enjoy hearing sounds you haven’t heard in years, and easily recognize where a sound is coming from. 

Imagine being able to hear your loved one call to you from another room, or understand what’s been said the first time without asking anyone to repeat what was said. You can hear the TV without turning up the volume, and enjoy talking on the phone. You can also improve your mental health, reduce your risk of depression, and stay socially active in the community.  Quality hearing aids will improve your quality of life, help you reconnect with loved ones, and keep your brain healthy and active.

Contact us today to learn more!