Is hearing loss leading to cognitive decline in elderly people?

Mild Hearing Loss: 2 times more likely to develop dementia; Moderate Hearing Loss: 3 times more likely to develop dementia; Severe Hearing Loss: 5 times more likely to develop dementia
What are the Connections Between Hearing Loss and Dementia?
October 19, 2018

Is hearing loss is the result of cognitive decline in senior people? Can we prevent or delay the cognitive loss with hearing aids? This is no simple question to answer.

Surveys have shown that there are close connection between age-related hearing loss and the increased risk of cognitive decline in individuals. More than 40 studies garnered from 12 participating countries have decisively indicated the relationship between the two, which got reported in a 2018 issue of JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery.

The records even show that the older people with a moderate and severe hearing loss cognitive decline have as much as 57% increased the risk of cognitive decline.

What are the reasons for the connection?

The precise reasons for the connection between these two conditions could be attributable to a great many factors, although these could not be examined in any of the extensive studies analyzed.

However, scientists and health officials consider that the likeliest reasons for the connection could be a decline in patients’ vascular systems, or possibly a general compromising of cognitive processes because so much effort must be expended to assess sensory information accurately.

Another contributing factor is thought to be social isolation, which is known to be one component impacting cognitive decline, because of the lesser amount of stimulation which is involved.

Regardless of what the underlying mechanism is connecting the two conditions, this exhaustive study made it clear that there’s a definite connection between age-related hearing loss and the decline of patients’ cognitive abilities.

What are the symptoms of cognitive impairment?

Cognitive impairment can otherwise be known as mild cognitive impairment or MCI. Experts have classified cognitive impairment based on the affected thinking skills:

  • Cognitive impairment frequently affects the memory which is also known as “amnestic MCI.” If a person has this amnestic MCI, he slowly starts to forget information which he or she used to remember easily in the past. This is usually related to things such as appointments, conversations, important tasks and so on.
  • Another form of MCI’s effect on the human brain which usually hampers the thinking skills is the “non-amnestic MCI.” The thinking skills that are impacted by non-amnestic MCI are: the ability to make decisions, estimating the time or the flow of the steps needed to accomplish a task, and visual perception.

What causes cognitive decline?

According to the doctors and the researchers, there is not just one single cause of cognitive impairment. While there is not only one single outcome of this disorder.

However, the symptoms of the cognitive decline may remain stagnant for years, but the progress will always stay in the case of Alzheimer and dementia that will improve with time.    

Nevertheless, the risk factors of cognitive impairment are somewhat similar or connected with Dementia. For example aging, family history of Alzheimer or Dementia, or any cases that may lead to cardiovascular diseases are all common risk factors.

Some of the causes which may be included while looking for cognitive impairment are:

  • When the beta-amyloid protein clumps abnormally and it also forms some tiny protein clumps then it is characterized as a type of Alzheimer disease.
  • Another clump related to Parkinson disease, Lewy bodies which are usually a microscopic clump. Lewy Bodie’s inclusion of Dementia results in Alzheimer’s and worst cases of cognitive impairment.
  • Some small strokes or reduced flow of the blood through the blood vessels.  

What cognitive abilities decline with age?

The most common misconception that people usually have regarding cognitive decline is that it comes with old age and there is no remedy to it.

The research doesn’t abide by these concepts. Instead it claims that some regions of the thinking stay active even when other parts age.

  • Intelligence: The Crystallized intelligence, or all the knowledge that we gain in the lifetime, does not stay stable with age. On the contrary, all the knowledge or the information that doesn’t have acquired experience or education fades with time. This intelligence is known as Fluid Intelligence.
  • Memory: All the remote memory of past events that are present for a long time remain active even in the old age. However, all the recent memory or the forming memories fade away fastly.
  • Attention: Focused or continuous attention is preserved and remains the same, such as the ability to watch a TV program, it remains fresh. The difficulties may be faced when multitasking, such as watching TV and talking in Phone.
  • Language: All the verbal ability such as the vocabulary remains the same with age. However, it can cause difficulty in the process of getting out the words. It can take a lot of time to get the exact words when involved in a conversation with someone.
  • Reasoning and problem solving: All the traditional ways which they learned earlier remain fresh and they will remember it.  However, all of the types of problems that they didn’t encounter in their whole life can take extra time to complete.
  • Processing speed: Of course aging affects the speed of processing, and it slows down with age. But this doesn’t mean they can’t process. They can totally process but it will just take a longer time.

What is the difference between dementia and mild cognitive impairment?

A physicist can know MCI from the severity of dementia and the difficulty that can be observed from the daily activities and by all the symptoms related to dementia whether it is present or absent. A person who has dementia will have problems such as keeping track of the events or medication.

Usually, individuals who have MCI don’t necessarily have symptoms of Dementia, such as questionable judgment and trouble in reasoning.

Source: researchgate

What does the analysis say?

What is suggested by the analysis of all patients involved in this large study is that those people who have not yet experienced any cognitive decline seem to be better protected against that eventuality when they have adequate hearing aids and protection installed to prevent hearing loss.

To individuals who have incurred some level of dementia or cognitive decline hearing aids were not found to be of significant value in either reversing the process or in maintaining the same level of cognitive ability. From this, it is clear that any hearing loss in older patients should be corrected as soon as possible, before the potential increases for eventual degradation of cognitive abilities.

Results from the studies

In another 2018 study detailed in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, the findings of these earlier studies were reinforced, and they get to know that hearing aids could most definitely slow down the effects of cognitive decline in older adults who are suffering from hearing loss.

In a review of more than 2,000 patients aged 50 and above, hearing aids were used for 18 consecutive years, and at the end of that period, their hearing was tested and compared to the same test results taken at the beginning of the test period.

Results clearly showed that participants using hearing aids experienced slower cognitive decline than they did before they started using hearing aids. Between the results of these two conclusive studies, it should be readily apparent that hearing aids can provide a beneficial service in preventing or slowing cognitive decline, especially in cases where no decline has begun yet.

Conclusion

We can conclude that users having hearing aids have shown a bit less cognitive decline because age and hearing are closely related. If you are using a hearing aid then it will definitely not increase cognitive impairment.

In the end, we can say hearing aid usage or hearing loss doesn’t lead to early cognitive decline.

If you have any queries concerning this article or anything related to hearing impairment and hearing aids then you can contact us, Sage hearing Solutions whenever you want; we are glad to help you!

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