Hearing Aids May Improve Senior Brain Functioning

With aging comes wisdom and experience, but life takes its toll on our bodies and we eventually have to deal with the weakening of our mental and sensory abilities. Hearing is usually one of first senses to weaken aside from vision. Our cognitive abilities decline as we age, and there is little we can do about it, or so was previously thought. New research is trying to suggest that our cognitive abilities are linked to each other and that improving the hearing capabilities of seniors may also improve their overall cognitive function.

A research team from the Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) has shown that hearing aids have the potential to boost cognitive function with elderly people. Aside from improving the hearing capabilities of the elderly, results of the study showed that elderly people who use hearing aids also had better cognitive test results.

The study used two types of cognitive tests, an auditory type and a non-auditory type of test. Not surprisingly, the team of elderly people who wore hearing aids scored considerably higher on the auditory cognition tests, but they also scored higher on the non-auditory type tests with only slightly better results.

The researchers also came to the conclusion that participants had better results on cognitive tests when aided by auditory stimuli rather than visual stimuli. They also stated that the loss of hearing is related to sensory-specific cognitive decline.

There are concerns that not enough seniors are wearing hearing aids. By the time most people reach the age of 75 their sense of hearing has already greatly weakened but only about 15% of seniors end up wearing hearing aids. The study hopes to encourage more seniors into using the devices.

Dr. Anil Lalwani, one of the researchers and a professor at CUMC has made links to the importance of the social and mental well-being of elderly people through constant communication with them. He has even suggested that dementia may be prevented or slowed down by allowing elderly people to use hearing aids and constantly engage them in conversations and communication. The researchers therefore strongly recommended hearing aids be used among elderly people with hearing loss in order to lessen cognitive impairment.

The loss of hearing leads to the loss of communication, making us less sociable and unable to relate to others. By strengthening our bonds with other people we keep our mental, and therefore, physical body strong. The impact that one’s hearing has on communicating with other people cannot be stressed enough.

In short, the use of hearing aids for elderly people is being strongly advocated by researchers to not only help with auditory impairments, but to also improve the overall cognitive abilities and health of the elderly. Though the hearing aids can greatly improve the cognitive functions of seniors, we mustn’t forget that they are also people who are seeking the love and company of others and should have somebody they can talk to about life and be able to impart their wisdom upon.

Are you experiencing loss of hearing function, or do you have a loved one that isn’t able to hear as well as he or she used to? Start by downloading our free hearing aid guide to learn more about how to get the perfect pair of hearing aids.

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