Hearing Loss Linked to Cognitive Decline

A French study that followed thousands of seniors over a 25 year period has found that older adults who suffer from hearing loss are at greater risk for cognitive decline than those without hearing trouble.  The good news revealed by the same study is that the use of hearing aids slows mental decline in elderly participants with hearing loss close to that of peers without impairment, reports Reuters Health.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, found that seniors with untreated hearing loss may begin to withdraw from social engagement when they start to miss information.   Following conversations, especially in situations with a noisy background, can become difficult for the hard of hearing and as a result some seniors may begin to avoid social settings which increasing the risk for isolation and in turn depression.  Researchers studied 3,700 seniors over a span of 25 years and found a significant connection between hearing loss and lower mental health screening scores as well as cognitive decline.

Nearly 30 per cent of people over the age of 65 suffer some hearing loss and in those 85 and older, 70 to 90 per cent are hard of hearing.   If you or a loved-one suffers from hearing loss, treatment with hearing aids and auditory rehabilitation programs can help maintain social involvement, so important for good mental health as we age.  Be patient with older adults who have hearing loss;  try to minimize background noise such as music or television and speak directly to the individual so they can pick up on facial cues.

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