Age Related Decline in Brain Function – Faster for the Hearing Impaired
It’s a sad fact that as we get older brain function declines – a recent study conducted over six years has shown that this effect is increased for the hearing impaired. Over the course of the study, regular cognitive exams were given to the participants, and it was found that scores dropped over 30% faster among those individuals who had hearing issues.
The greater the issues with hearing, the faster the decay took place. The study in which nearly 2,000 participants volunteered showed that hearing impaired individuals will lose mental faculties over three years quicker than aging individuals who can hear normally.
What is the significance of these findings? The study shows that a decline in hearing ability should not be ignored as a person ages, as this can lead to a faster decline in brain function – thus older ones should get their hearing checked regularly, and those experiencing hearing problems should take advantage of devices or procedures to correct the problem.
Doctors also need to discuss the importance of hearing with their patients more often – sadly, only about one out of every seven people who need a hearing aid wear one, and whether the reason for this is embarrassment or financial shortfall, the result is far worse than merely an inability to hear well.
What relates hearing problems and brain decline? A number of extraneous factors can play a part – hearing loss may result in less time spent socially with others, and isolation in turn certainly further affects brain function. Also, the brain expends more energy in trying to hear, thus leaving less processing power for other important and essential functions.
The researcher’s intentions for the next study are to see if hearing aids will help slow the mental decline indicated in the aforementioned study by restoring some hearing ability. Hearing loss now joins the list with strokes, diabetes and high blood pressure as one of the many factors that contribute to faster mental decline.