Dementia Can be Slowed by Getting Hearing Loss Treated

Woman helping her father improve his hearing and cognitive health with hearing aids.

Susan is living the active lifestyle she always thought she would in retirement. At 68, she’s now visited more than a dozen countries and has lots more on her list. On some days she can be found tackling a hiking trail with her grandchildren, on others she will be volunteering at a local hospital, and sometimes you will see her out enjoying the lake.

Seeing and doing new things is what Susan’s all about. But in the back of her mind, Susan is concerned that cognitive decline or dementia could change all that.

When Susan’s mother was about her age she started exhibiting the first signs of mental decline. Susan watched her mother, who she had always loved and respected, struggle more and more with daily tasks over a 15 year period. She’s becoming forgetful. At some point, she could only recognize Susan on a good day.

Susan has tried to eat a healthy diet and exercise so she could hopefully steer clear of what her mother experienced. But she’s not sure that will be enough. Is there anything else she can do that’s been shown to slow cognitive decline and dementia?

Luckily, there are things you can do to avert cognitive decline. Three of them are listed here.

1. Get Exercise

Susan discovered that she’s already on the right track. She does try to get the suggested amount of exercise each day.

People who do moderate exercise daily have a decreased risk of mental decline according to many studies. These same studies show that individuals who are already dealing with some form of cognitive decline also have a positive effect from regular exercise.

Here are several reasons why researchers believe consistent exercise can ward off cognitive decline.

  1. As a person gets older, the nervous system deteriorates and consistent exercise can slow this. Without these nerves, the brain doesn’t understand how to process memories, communicate with the body, or think about how to do things. Exercise slows this deterioration so scientists believe that it could also slow cognitive decline.
  2. Neuroprtection factors might be enhanced with exercise. There are mechanisms within your body that protect some cells from damage. These protectors might be created at a higher rate in individuals who get an abundance of exercise.
  3. The risk of cardiovascular disease is lowered by exercising. Blood carries oxygen and nutrients to cells in the brain. If cardiovascular disease blocks this blood flow, cells die. Exercise may be able to delay dementia by keeping these vessels healthy.

2. Address Vision Problems

The rate of cognitive decline was cut nearly in half in individuals who had their cataracts extracted according to an 18-year study conducted on 2000 people.

While this research focused on one common cause for loss of eyesight, this study backs the fact that maintaining eyesight as you age is important for your cognitive health.

Losing eyesight at an older age can lead a person to retreat from their circle of friends and stop doing things they enjoy. Further studies have explored links between social separation and advancing dementia.

Getting cataracts treated is crucial. You’ll be safeguarding yourself against the advancement of dementia if you do what you can to maintain healthy vision.

3. Get Hearing Aids

If you have untreated hearing loss, you could be on your way into cognitive decline. A hearing aid was given to 2000 people by the same researchers that carried out the cataract research. They tested the progression of cognitive decline in the same way.

They got even more remarkable results. Cognitive decline was reduced by 75% in the participants who were given hearing aids. So the dementia symptoms they were already experiencing simply stopped.

There are some probable reasons for this.

The social component is the first thing. Individuals who have neglected hearing loss often socially isolate themselves because they struggle to interact with their friends at social gatherings and events.

Second, when somebody gradually begins to lose their hearing, the brain forgets how to hear. The degeneration progressively impacts other parts of the brain the longer the person waits to get their hearing aids.

Researchers have, in fact, utilized an MRI to compare the brains of people with untreated hearing loss to people who use a hearing aid. The brain actually shrinks in individuals with neglected hearing loss.

That’s definitely not good for your memory and mental capabilities.

Stave off dementia by wearing your hearing aids if you have them. If you’re putting off on getting a hearing aid, even with hearing loss, it’s time to contact us for a hearing exam. Learn how you can hear better with modern technological advancements in hearing aids.


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The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.

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    Dr. Laura Padham, Audiologist

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