Hearing loss can be detrimental to long-term brain health. When left untreated, it can potentially lead to a decline in memory, thinking ability and social skills.
Now a new discovery has delivered a huge wake-up call to everybody over 60: a simple hearing device could be enough to keep this downward spiral – and perhaps even diseases such as dementia – at bay.
This landmark 25-year study, published last week by the American Geriatrics Society, followed more than 3,500 people above the age of 65, tracking the way their brains aged over a quarter of a century.
Remarkably, there was no apparent difference in cognitive decline between those who used hearing devices and those who reported no hearing loss at all.
On the other hand, those who reported hearing loss but avoided hearing devices showed lower test scores and accelerated decline.
This discovery reinforces what many hearing experts have long been arguing: the early detection of hearing problems could bring enormous, far-reaching benefits to our long-term health.
Hearing loss is often gradual and progressive. It can take years for a sufferer to fully comprehend the problem; longer still to get it diagnosed and treated. Another study found sufferers can wait up to a decade to seek help, and will often deny there’s a problem at all in the interim.
Sufferers often report difficulty with thinking, concentration, and even finding simple enthusiasm. This can slowly, subtly reshape the brain over time.
Thomas Behrens, Head of the Centre for Applied Audiology Research at Oticon, said hearing loss can make even the most casual everyday activities enormously tiring.
“When hearing is compromised, such as with hearing loss, the sound signal that the brain is accustomed to processing is different and it takes more effort to fill in the blanks,” he said.
“People may respond by withdrawing socially because it’s just too exhausting to try to keep up. Social isolation and the resulting depression and health issues have long been recognised as increased risk factors for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease”.
This new study, however, suggests a hearing aid could be all it takes for many to become socially active again – or at least help fulfil the amount of social activity the brain requires.
If you suspect, even for a second, that your hearing could be at risk, be mindful of the long-term consequences of ignoring these concerns. A quick, free checkup is all it takes to ensure peace of mind.
This simple, proactive action today could ensure healthier, happier outlook in the years to come.
This post is sponsored by AudioClinic. It was written as we feel it brings valuable insights into a subject important to the Starts at 60 community. For more information, please visit the, AudioClinic website.
*Free hearing check-up is only available to persons aged 26 years or older.
This post was previously published on Starts at 60 as How a hearing aid can prevent cognitive decline.