Wearing a hearing aid may delay the onset of dementia

Recent studies have shown a link between hearing loss to a loss of brain function, memory and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimers. Further studies of thousands of over 50 year olds has found that wearing hearing aids appear to protect against long term brain decline which suggests that becoming deaf can actually bring on, or speed up, dementia.

The studies, taken over a 24 month period, showed that 1557 partially deaf people, who used hearing devices, were able to focus better than the 2815 who reported hearing loss but did not use an aid. It also showed that those without an aid had the concentration ability of someone eight years older.

Why can wearing hearing aids slow down brain aging by eight years?

  1. One has to do with cognitive load. With untreated hearing loss, the brain gets overworked by constantly straining to understand speech and sound. An overworked brain doesn’t work efficiently.
  2. Another has to do with brain structure. Brain cells can shrink from lack of stimulation, including the parts of the brain that receive and process sound.
  3. The last theory is social isolation. When a person has trouble hearing conversations and socializing, they may prefer staying home instead. However, the more isolated a person becomes, the less stimuli their brain receives.