Healthy Hearing Keeps Us Sharp In 2013, Dr. Frank R. Lin, a doctor at the Johns Hopkins Center on Aging and Health, conducted a large research HowWe Can Help Keep Your Brain in Shape factors for dementia that are related to hearing loss are social isolation, cerebral atrophy, and cognitive overload:
Summary of data from Lin et al., 2011 Johns Hopkins Medical Center
study that found that “[h]earing loss is independently associated with accelerated cognitive decline and incident cognitive impairment in community- dwelling older adults.” In this follow-up to a 2011 study, nearly 2,000 individuals were monitored for six years to determine whether or not hearing loss was a significant contributor to future decline in cognitive functions (reasoning, memory, attention, and language). In the end, those with untreated hearing loss were 24 percent more likely to experience significant cognitive decline than those with healthy hearing. The worse a patient’s hearing was at the beginning of the study, the more dramatic the cognitive decline was by its end. Numerous studies like this one have linked the onset of cognitive decline and dementia to hearing loss. Three major risk
much as a 20 percent increase in memory recall when following a conversation.) According to P. Murali Doraiswamy, M.D., a professor of psychiatry and medicine at Duke University School of Medicine and coauthor of “The Alzheimer’s Action Plan,” “The benefits of correcting hearing loss on cognition are twice as large as the benefits from any cognitive-enhancing drugs now on the market. It should be the first thing we focus on.” To find out if your hearing status – with or without hearing aids – is optimized to help you maintain good brain health, call Hearing Center of Long Island at (516) 872-8485 for a free consultation that will test for a critical cognitive function: handling speech with background noise.
• With increased untreated hearing loss, there is a natural tendency to participate less in social activities, since conversation becomes more difficult, causing social isolation to increase. • The reduction of auditory stimulation resulting from untreated hearing loss has been shown in MRI studies to result in shrinkage (atrophy) of the parts of the brain responsible for hearing, memory, speech, and language. • With untreated hearing loss, the brain needs to use more of its limited resources to try filling the gaps in conversation. This overload leaves fewer mental resources for other tasks, such as remembering what was said. (Recent research shows that those who treat their hearing loss have as
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