Untreated hearing loss is a contributing factor in the development of dementia. Researchers have not only found strong correlations between the two, but they also believe that treating hearing loss early, staying mentally active, and maintaining strong social connections all can help lower risks of cognitive decline.
Untreated hearing loss burdens cognitive functioning. The less accurate the sound details received by the brain, the more mental effort required to make sense of the sounds. The effort robs “brain power” that would otherwise be used to interact and respond. Unfortunately, as untreated hearing loss progresses, so does the tendency for the affected person to withdraw socially and to participate in fewer social activities. This leads to mental stagnation.
Brain tissue loss occurs faster in adults with untreated hearing loss. MRIs reveal that those with long-term hearing deficits have less gray matter in their auditory cortex, the region of the brain needed for speech comprehension. Studies also show that older adults with untreated mild-to-moderate hearing loss perform poorer on cognitive tests than those of the same age who retained their hearing.
It is important to address hearing problems early. The sooner hearing loss is detected, the more hearing ability that is likely to be preserved. The first step is to schedule a diagnostic hearing evaluation by a Doctor of Audiology. Your Audiologist can not only help improve your life today – but also your brain for years to come!