There is a link between (ears) hearing impairment and (brain) Dementia

earsEars, ergo our hearing has a lot to do with what goes on with our brain in the middle. When there is a hearing problem, deficit or impairment in our ears, then the relationship between hearing and the brain is disrupted. It is more challenging, and tiring to follow what is being said. Understanding is therefore also adversely affected. In a sense, hearing loss in the ears can cause less information input for our brain and a part of the brain, then atrophies, resulting in some form of cognitive impairment.

We hear sounds and words through our ears but then it is transformed into information in our brain. When the “input” is impaired, understanding may likely be impaired also. Since it takes more work for the brain to fill in gaps from not hearing, over time, loss of hearing can result in feeling isolated and depressed.  It is known in the research that hearing impairment and especially deafness is more isolating than vision loss or blindness.

Fortunately today, hearing aids are better than ever (smaller too) and packed with technology and often barely visible in our ears.  So, with amplification, the sounds, words coming through the ear and into the hearing part of your brain makes it easier for the brain to do its part.  True, the ear and brain work as a system together, but the brain is doing most of the work.

It’s the brain that makes sense of all the sounds

Our brain uses the incoming sound information to orient us to the direction of the sound or communicating words, sound waves become recognized sounds and help us to focus on a conversation and separate out the unwanted sounds in the background. These functions occur continuously and simultaneously. In short, in the brain is where sounds are recognized and categorized in order for us to make sense of what we are hearing.

When hearing is lost or greatly impaired, that part of the brain will atrophy. Hearing technology today can help to preserve details in speech, locate sounds, and reduce the effort of listening/concentrating and even denoting personal preferences.

So, you may think you can live without hearing or have made peace with that, but it is your brain and psychological wellbeing which are at stake, not just your hearing.  Boomers and Older Adults ought to get your hearing tested, like you do your eyes. Your hearing will like be able to be improving and prolonged which very good news for your brain is functioning.