Hearing loss is a common phenomenon and it could affect individuals across all age groups. The main causes for hearing impairment could be hereditary factors, trauma, ear disease, noise exposure, and most importantly, age. Hearing loss is known to trigger cognitive decline and memory loss in older adults. Audiologists have been seeing a boost in demand for their services by aged clients whose communication issues are triggered by hearing impairment and cognitive decline. For all these aged people, early detection or diagnosis of cognitive decline is crucial as it is mandatory to provide prompt medical intervention and also assure social support.
Hearing Loss & Cognitive Decline
According to researchers and experts in the field of audiology, hearing loss is certainly a factor in deteriorating mental acuity in aged individuals. Persons with severe hearing loss would be having greater chances of developing some sort of a cognitive disorder and a definite boost in mental function decline while individuals with even mild hearing would be experiencing cognitive issues such as dementia, memory changes, and even increased falls.
The exact connection between hearing impairment and cognitive decline is yet not completely understood. It could possibly be because of a surge in cognitive load. The brain is overwhelmed because of increasing demands on its already limited resources. Hearing impairment could result in increased social isolation to which aged adults seem to be already prone to. Social isolation is certainly a risk factor for dementia and cognitive impairment according to audiologists.
Diminished hearing abilities could result in reduced brain stimulation, which again is a great risk factor for declining thinking abilities. It could also be plausible that by compelling the brain to work overtime for effectively processing the signals coming from the ears, it is obvious that the hearing impairment would be taking away all the energy and vitality from the brain’s thinking parts.
Ways Hearing Loss Could Cause Memory Problems & Dementia
Physiological Pathway: Perhaps the most obvious cause is a physiological pathway that plays a role in cognitive decline, as well as, hearing loss, like blood pressure.
Cognitive Overload: The most common cause of memory loss issues is the cognitive overload which is actually, the constant endeavour you are putting in, for understanding what you are apparently hearing. You are constantly straining and this could prove to be stressful to your brain. Moreover, an older adult has been drawing away resources from brain functions like working memory would eventually bring down the resilience of the brain.
Changes in Brain Structure: Experts believe that hearing impairment could affect the brain structure in such a manner that cognitive issues or memory problems would arise. Images of the brain demonstrate that aged individuals with hearing impairment have relatively less grey matter in that portion of the brain that is known to receive and process sounds coming in through the ears. This does not imply that they are losing brain cells.
You could say certain brain cell structures are shrinking due to lack of stimulation. Many experts believe that when the brain is again able to receive clearer speech signals with the use of cutting-edge hearing aids, these brain structures could be recovering and going back to their previous function and size. This may lead to the restoration of hearing.
Social Isolation: Social isolation seems to play a pivotal role in cognitive decline or memory problems. When you are having hearing issues, you tend to avoid friends and social gatherings as it becomes difficult to carry on a conversation. When you become socially isolated there would be a definite increase in the risk of cognitive decline leading to dementia.
It would possibly take a lot more research for accurately determining what factors lead to memory issues triggered by hearing loss. The important thing is to understand that an advanced hearing loss treatment including state-of-the-art hearing aids could be successful in delaying or preventing cognitive decline and even dementia.
Our audiology clinic in Southern River Family Practice offers varies hearing solutions for all your hearing problems. Feel free to make appointment today with our audiologist to understand further on preventing hearing loss.