A phrase that gets frequently 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 aspects. A person’s mental acuity is impacted by several elements such as memory, concentration, and the ability to comprehend and understand.
Besides mind altering illnesses like dementia, hearing loss has also been established as a contributing factor for mental decline.
Between Dementia And Your Hearing What is The Connection?
In fact, one study out of Johns Hopkins University revealed a relationship between dementia, a loss in cognitive ability, and loss of hearing. A six year study of 2000 people from the ages of 75-85 concluded that there was a 30 to 40 percent quicker cognitive decline in people who suffer from loss of hearing.
Memory and concentration were two of the functions highlighted by the study in which researchers noted a reduction in cognitive abilities. One Johns Hopkins professor cautioned against downplaying the relevance of hearing loss just because it’s regarded as a normal aspect of getting older.
What Are The Problems From Impaired Hearing Besides Memory Loss?
In another study, the same researchers discovered that a case of impaired hearing could not only speed up the process of mental decline, but is more likely to lead to stress, depression or periods of sadness. 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 loss of hearing at the beginning of the study were more inclined to experience dementia than people who have healthy hearing. And an even more telling stat from this study was that the likelihood of someone developing a mind-weakening condition and loss of hearing had a direct correlation. Symptoms of dementia were as much as five times more probable in individuals with more severe loss of hearing.
And other studies internationally, besides this Johns Hopkins study, have also drawn attention to the loss of mental aptitude and hearing loss.
A Connection Between Mental Decline And Loss of Hearing is Supported by International Research
Published in 2014, a University of Utah study of 4,400 seniors discovered similar findings in that those with hearing loss ended up with dementia more frequently and sooner than those with normal hearing.
One study in Italy went even further by examining two separate causes of age-related hearing loss. Through the assessment of peripheral and central hearing loss, researchers concluded that people with central hearing loss were more likely to have a mild cognitive impairment than those with normal hearing or peripheral hearing loss. Generally, people struggle to understand words they hear if they have central hearing loss, which is caused by an inability to process sound.
In the Italian study, people with lower scores on speech comprehension assessments also had lower scores on cognitive tests involving thought and memory.
Even though the exact reason for the connection between loss of hearing and cognitive impairment is still unknown, researchers are confident in the connection.
The Way Loss of Hearing Can Affect Mental Acuity
However, researchers involved with the study in Italy do have a theory about the brain’s temporal cortex. When talking about that potential cause, the study’s lead researcher highlighted the importance of the brain’s superior temporal gyrus which are ridges on the cerebral cortex that are found above the ear and play a role in the recognition of spoken words.
The theory indicates that age-related changes in the primary auditory cortex, which serves as a receiver of information before processing, along with associated alterations to the memory areas of the temporal cortex, could be a conduit to a loss of neurons in the brain.
If You Have Loss of Hearing, What Should You do?
The Italians think this kind of mild mental impairment is akin to a pre-clinical stage of dementia. 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.
Two out of every three people over the age of 75 have lost some hearing ability, with significant loss of hearing in 48 million Americans. Even 14 percent of people between the ages of 45 and 64 are impacted by loss of hearing.
Hearing aids can provide a significant improvement in hearing function decreasing dangers for many people and that’s the good news. This is according to that lead author of the Italian study.
To find out if you need hearing aids make an appointment with a hearing care expert.