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Studies have found hearing loss to be the third mist common health condition which affects older adults. It occurs in 1/3rd of people over the age of 65 and 2/3rd over the age of 70. Loss of hearing in the later ages may give rise to conditions like dementia, Alzheimer’s and cognitive decline.

Staying mindful and sharp in the later years of your life is easier said than done. The University of Exeter and King’s College conducted a very interesting study stating that hearing aids may help protect the functioning of brain in older adults. Research has proven that older adults who wear hearing aids, tend to suffer less from age-related hearing loss issues.

Another study, carried out at the University of Michigan Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation stated the following facts about the benefits of using hearing aids in older adults:

  • Decreases the relative risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s by 18%
  • Reduces the relative risk of being diagnosed with depression or anxiety by 11%
  • Lessens the risk of fall-related injuries by 13%

Signs of hearing loss in older adults

  • Trouble hearing over telephone
  • Hard to follow conversations
  • Asking others to repeat what they said
  • Turning up the TV volume extremely loud

Types of hearing losses

Sensorineural hearing loss

  • Occurs due to damage in the inner ear or auditory nerve
  • Usually permanent in nature

Conductive hearing loss

  • Occurs when sound waves do not reach the inner ear
  • Can also be caused due to a punctured eardrum or earwax build up
  • Can be treated through surgery

Age-related hearing loss (Presbycusis)

  • Come gradually with age
  • Can be genetic or inherited
  • Can occur due to changes in auditory nerve
  • Usually occurs in both ears and affects them equally

Ringing in the ears (Tinnitus)

  • Clicking, hissing, roaring or buzzing in the ears
  • Sounds can be hears in one or both ears
  • Sounds can be soft or loud

What effects can hearing loss have on the brain?

  • It can shrink parts of the brain responsible for auditory response
  • Neurons become less active and can’t focus on complex sentences
  • Speech comprehension in older adults gets worsened

Hearing aids helps patients with hearing loss in the following manner:

  • Improve auditory perception
  • Reduce cognitive load
  • Alleviate personal and social difficulties
  • Decrease risk of incidental dementia

Relation of hearing loss with brain health

Research has found that older adults living with hearing impairment have less gray matter in the auditory centres of their brain. The part of the brain which processes information, muscle movement and allows our body to function is known as gray matter. However, untreated hearing loss can pose a significant effect on the brain health and also accelerate cognitive decline.

A study conducted at the University of Manchester analysed data from the memory tests of over 2000 adults. It was found that older adults took the memory tests every 2 years for 18 years. Older adults who didn’t treat their hearing loss experienced more cognitive declines as compared to those who were using hearing aids.

Why is it essential to treat hearing loss at the earliest?

The regular use of hearing aids in older adults can slow down the cognitive decline. Those who do not treat their hearing loss in time may have to suffer severe damages to the brain. You must not wait to visit an audiology and hearing aid centre for years to get your hearing impairment treated or it might cause you irreversible changes. Hearing aids can’t regenerate the dead cells or replace the gray matter in the brain.

Improved brain functioning can be related to the usage of hearing aids in the following manner:

  • Improved relationships
  • You’ll not feel lonely or left out if you use hearing aids
  • You’ll be able to be a part of conversations if you can hear properly
  • Decelerated deterioration in hearing
  • Your brain won’t forget certain sounds if it hears them on a regular basis
  • The earlier you start using hearing aids, the longer your brain will keep interpreting frequencies
  • Better quality of life
  • Studies have found that 70% of hearing aid wearers become more outgoing after using hearing aids
  • Quality of life improves with improved listening
  • You can participate better in conversations
  • You tend to develop a sense of independence with enhanced confidence
  • Safety sound recognition

There are some necessary safety sounds like those of smoke alarms and sirens. Car horns and traffic signal sounds should also be very clearly audible to you while driving. Wearing a hearing aid helps you hear these sounds distinguishingly. It gives proper signals to your brain for differentiating one sound from another.

  • Improvement in memory
  • 20% selective attention
  • 25% increased processing speed
  • 14% enhanced working memory

Health benefits of using hearing aids regularly

You don’t hear with your ears, but with your brain. Using hearing aids on a daily basis is just like exercising regularly. If you want your muscles to stay in shape then you need to exercise them every day. Similarly, to keep your auditory nerves in a good working condition, you must wear your hearing aids daily.

Wearing your hearing aids on a regular basis can take time to adjust. Your brain also takes time to get habituated to this device and its signals. This is why it is essential that you wear your hearing aid at all times except for when you’re showering, swimming or sleeping.

Regular usage of hearing aids also helps to improve short term memory. Research has proved that the more you listen with your hearing device put, the better your brain gets at recognizing different sounds and words.

Latest technology in hearing aids

With technological advancements, hearing aids have also been upgraded. Digital hearing aid centres have the following types of hearing aids:

  • Behind the ear (BTE)
  • Rechargeable hearing aids
  • Receiver in canal (RIC)
  • CROS
  • Invisible hearing aids (CIC & IIC)
  • 3D printed ITC
  • Bluetooth hearing aids

At Quality Hearing Care, we understand the positive impact that a good hearing aid can have on your life. Visit us for booking an appointment and our expert team of professionals to help you with any hearing impairment related issues.

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