Dementia: Hearing loss may accelerate cognitive decline

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D&eacute ;mence: hearing loss could accelerate cognitive decline

An elderly man places a hearing aid in his ear.

Hearing loss may accelerate cognitive decline that accompanies dementia, study finds .

Wearing a hearing aid could therefore slow this decline, which is a reminder of the importance of ensuring maximum stimulation of the brain to optimize the chances to keep it healthy.

We talked about it a little, but never as precisely as in this study, commented Professor Serge Rivest, from the Department of Molecular Medicine of the Faculty of Medicine at Université Laval.

“They really do correlate between […] hearing loss and then the possibility of developing Alzheimer’s disease”. #x27;Alzheimers. »

— Serge Rivest, Department of Molecular Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Laval University

The researchers analyzed a sample of some 2,400 Americans aged 70 and over. About a third of the subjects had normal hearing and a third had moderate or severe hearing loss. The rest had more modest hearing loss.

Dementia was found in 6% of participants with normal hearing, 9% of participants with modest hearing loss and in 17% of subjects with significant hearing loss.

The researchers used, possibly for the first time, an electronic device to measure the subjects' understanding of frequencies crucial to human conversation, allowing an initial objective measurement of hearing loss instead of ;use what was reported by the participants.

The researchers showed that there was a certain percentage of people who developed cognitive decline more quickly when hearing was lower, Rivest said.

Hearing loss reduces brain stimulation, which could increase the risk of dementia. It could also interfere with the individual's social activities, and research has shown that isolation is a risk factor for dementia.

Possibly this explains the acceleration of cognitive decline in a person who will develop dementia anyway, said Professor Rivest.

However, we should not conclude, he specifies, that the only loss of the hearing will be responsible for the appearance of a dementia. It can hasten symptoms, but it's not a direct cause, the researcher said.

Hearing isn't the only sense that needs to be protected. Another study, this one published in 2021, found an association between decreased hearing, decreased vision, or decreased both, and an increased risk of dementia.

We know that in people with a family history, the risk of developing Alzheimer's will double or triple, Rivest said. One of the things we recommend to people in a situation like that is to do cognitive exercises as much as possible, crosswords, games of tactics… It helps to maintain these cognitive functions [ because] cognitive activity, cerebral activity, greatly helps to reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's.

All specialists know hear about the protective effect of intellectual activities and social interactions in the face of dementia, he concluded, hence the importance of wearing a hearing aid such as ;shown in this study.

The findings of this study were published by the medical journal JAMA.

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