Hearing loss linked to brain decline
What does hearing loss have to do with how the brain ages? A new study from Johns Hopkins University has found that the brain may decline faster in elderly people who have hearing problems than in those who don’t. The researchers theorized that the brain may rewire itself to account for the hearing loss and that could be a factor. Another possibility is that the brain decline is related to the fact that people who lose their hearing are more likely to be socially isolated.
The study observed more than 1,900 people in their 70s over a period of six years. Baseline cognitive and hearing tests were conducted and follow-up analysis was done over the length of the study. Those with hearing loss experienced a 40 percent faster decline in cognition.
Though many people have a loss of hearing capacity as they age, only 15 percent of Americans who experience hearing loss use a hearing aid, suggesting this problem could be significantly undertreated.