“Mental acuity” is a term that gets commonly tossed around in regards to getting older. It’s called, by most health care specialistssharpness of the mind in layman’s terms, But the measurement of mental acuity takes into consideration several aspects. Memory, focus and the ability to comprehend or understand are just a few of the factors that can play a role in a person’s mental acuity.
Besides mind altering illnesses like dementia, loss of hearing has also been verified as a contributing component in mental decline.
Between Dementia And Your Hearing What is The Link?
In fact, Johns Hopkins University carried out one study that uncovered a relationship between hearing loss, dementia and a loss in cognitive function. Through a study of 2,000 men and women age 75-84 during a six-year span, researchers found that individuals who had hearing loss had a 30 to 40 percent faster decline in cognitive function than those with normal hearing.
Memory and concentration were two of the functions outlined by the study in which researchers noted a reduction in cognitive capabilities. One Johns Hopkins professor cautioned against downplaying the significance of hearing loss just because it’s regarded as a normal aspect of aging.
Loss of Memory is Not The Only Concern With Impaired Hearing
In a different study, those same researchers discovered that a case of hearing impairment could not only accelerate the process of cognitive 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 didn’t have hearing loss were not as likely to develop dementia than individuals who did have loss of hearing. Moreover, the study discovered a direct link between the severity of hearing loss and the probability of developing a mind-weakening affliction. Participants with more severe loss of hearing were as much as five times more likely to suffer symptoms of dementia.
And other studies internationally, besides this Johns Hopkins study, have also drawn attention to the loss of mental aptitude and hearing loss.
A Correlation Between Mental Decline And Loss of Hearing is Backed 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 earlier by people who suffer from hearing loss than by those with average hearing.
One study in Italy took it a step further by examining two different causes of age-related hearing loss. People with normal hearing loss or peripheral hearing loss were less likely to develop mental impairment than those with central hearing loss. This was concluded after researchers studied both peripheral and central hearing loss. Typically, people struggle to comprehend words they hear if they have central hearing loss, which is caused by an inability to process sound.
In the Italian study, participants with lower scores on speech comprehension assessments also had lower scores on cognitive tests involving thought and memory.
Although the cause of the relationship between hearing loss and cognitive impairment is still not known, researchers are confident in the connection.
The Way Loss of Hearing Can Impact Mental Acuity
However, researchers involved with the study in Italy do have a theory that revolves around the brain’s temporal cortex. In speaking on that potential cause, the study’s lead author highlighted the importance of the brain’s superior temporal gyrus which are ridges on the cerebral cortex that are located above the ear and are involved in the recognition of spoken words.
The auditory cortex functions 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.
What Can You do if You Have Hearing Loss?
The Italians believe this kind of mild mental impairment is akin to a pre-clinical stage of dementia. It should certainly be taken seriously despite the pre-clinical diagnosis. And the number of Us citizens who may be in danger is shocking.
Out of all people, two of three over the age of 75 have lost some hearing ability, with considerable hearing loss in 48 million Americans. Loss of hearing even affects 14 percent of those between the ages of 45 and 64.
Fortunately there are methods to decrease these dangers with a hearing aid, which can provide a considerable improvement in hearing function for most people. This is according to that lead author of the Italian research.
Make an appointment with a hearing care professional to see if you need hearing aids.