A phrase that gets regularly thrown around in context with getting older is “mental acuity”. The majority of health care or psychology experts call it sharpness of the mind in layman’s terms, But the measurement of mental acuity takes into account several factors. Memory, focus and the ability to comprehend or understand are just a few of the areas that can play a role in a person’s mental acuity.
Along with mind altering illnesses like dementia, hearing loss has also been established as a contributing factor for mental decline.
The Link Between Dementia And Your Hearing
In fact, Johns Hopkins University carried out one study which found a relationship between hearing loss, dementia and a reduction in cognitive function. Through a study of 2,000 people age 75-84 during a six-year span, researchers concluded that participants who had loss of hearing had a 30 to 40 percent faster decrease in mental function than those with normal hearing.
In the study which researchers observed a reduction in cognitive ability, memory and attention were two of the areas highlighted. One Johns Hopkins professor cautioned against downplaying the significance of hearing loss just because it’s regarded as a normal part of getting older.
What Are The Concerns From Impaired Hearing Beyond Memory Loss?
In a different study, those same researchers found that a case of impaired hearing could not only quicken the process of cognitive decline, but is more likely to result in stress, depression or periods of unhappiness. Hospitalization and injury from a fall were also found to be more likely in this study’s participants.
A study of 600 older adults in 2011 concluded that participants who suffered from hearing loss at the beginning of the study were more inclined to experience dementia than those who have normal hearing. Additionally, the study discovered a direct correlation between the severity of loss of hearing and the probability of developing a mind-weakening condition. Individuals with more extreme loss of hearing were as much as five times more likely to experience symptoms of dementia.
And other studies internationally, besides this Johns Hopkins study, have also brought attention to the loss of cognitive aptitude and hearing loss.
A Connection Between Mental Decline And Hearing Loss is Supported by International Research
Published in 2014, a University of Utah study of 4,400 seniors discovered similar findings in that dementia will be developed more frequently and sooner by people who suffer from hearing loss than by people with normal hearing.
One study in Italy went even further by analyzing two different causes of age-related hearing loss. Individuals with normal hearing loss or peripheral hearing loss were less likely to have mental disability than those with central hearing loss. This was determined after scientists examined both peripheral and central hearing loss. Generally, people struggle to comprehend words they hear if they have central hearing loss, which is caused by an inability to process sound.
Scores on cognitive tests pertaining to memory and thought were lower in those people who also had low scores in speech and comprehension, according to the Italian study.
Although the cause of the connection between hearing loss and cognitive impairment is still unknown, researchers are confident in the connection.
The Way Hearing Loss Can Affect Mental Acuity
However, researchers involved with the study in Italy do have a theory about the brain’s temporal cortex. In speaking on that potential cause, the study’s lead author emphasized the importance of the brain’s superior temporal gyrus situated above the ear, these ridges on the cerebral cortex play a role in comprehension of speech and words.
The auditory cortex serves as a receiver of information and goes through changes as we get older along with the memory areas of the temporal cortex which may be a conduit to a loss of neurons in the brain.
If You Have Loss of Hearing, What Should You do?
A pre-clinical stage of dementia, according to the Italian study, is parallel to a mild form of cognitive impairment. In spite of that pre-clinical diagnosis, it’s certainly something to be serious about And it’s shocking the number of Us citizens who are in danger.
Out of all people, two of three have lost some hearing ability if they are over the age of 75, with a total of 48 million Americans suffering what is considered to be significant hearing loss. Loss of hearing even impacts 14 percent of people from 45 to 65.
Fortunately there are ways to minimize these risks with a hearing aid, which can offer a considerable enhancement in hearing function for many people. This is according to that lead author of the Italian research.
To find out if you need hearing aids make an appointment with a hearing care expert.