Less than 1% of people in the U.S. live until 100 and beyond. But research finds that people who do, are typically sharp and mentally healthy. Researchers refer to this group of people as cognitive super agers – aging adults (over 70 years old) who have the mental and physical capacities of someone decades younger. More studies are focusing on identifying the characteristics of cognitive super agers to learn ways people can remain healthy as they age. One characteristic that studies have identified is great hearing health that is supported by hearing aids!
Cognitive Super Agers
A recent study published in the American Medical Association’s journal: JAMA Network, examined patterns in healthy aging among centenarians (adults age 100 and over). Conducted by researchers at Vrije University in Amsterdam, the study involved 330 healthy centenarians who had their cognitive functions tested yearly. Four years of data and involved results from comprehensive testing revealed the following:
- Cognitive functions remained strong with participants easily able to make decisions, perform tasks, execute plans, etc.
- Participants maintained high levels of cognitive performance despite experiencing an increased risk of developing conditions like Alzheimer’s.
Researchers suggest that what made these cognitive super-agers holistically healthy is a cognitive reserve. Having this reserve helps adjust to changes the brain may experience and this resilience can protect the brain from experiencing a decline.
Researchers identified characteristics of a cognitive super-ager which include: eating a healthy diet, having an active social life, exercising regularly, and having cognitively stimulating jobs. Additionally, more than half of the participants lived independently and also had a healthy vision as well as hearing health.
Hearing Loss & Cognitive Decline
Hearing loss is a permanent medical condition that increases health risks. Extensive research examines the ways hearing loss also impacts brain health. Various studies highlight a correlation between hearing loss and the development of conditions characterized by cognitive decline, namely Alzheimer’s. A significant 2019 study that reveals the relationship between both conditions was published in the Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association. The study involved 10,107 participants who were cognitively healthy when the study started. Researchers examined and analyzed data collected over 8 years, finding that compared to participants without hearing loss, cognitive decline was:
- 30% higher for people with mild hearing loss
- 42% higher for people with moderate hearing loss
- 54% higher for people with severe hearing loss
These findings show that hearing loss can substantially increase the risk of cognitive decline and that the degree of hearing loss heightens the risk. An effective way to protect brain health then is to address and treat hearing loss.
Hearing Aids Strengthen Brain Health
Hearing aids are the most common treatment for hearing loss. These electronic devices are designed to detect and process sound, providing significant hearing support. This maximizes hearing capacity and strengthens communication. Today’s hearing aids are equipped with innovative technology that allows them to easily integrate into daily life. This includes a range of features that enhance user experience as well as transform hearing health. Hearing aids offer countless life-changing benefits that improve the quality and longevity of life: strengthened relationships, enriched social life, improved wellness, and improved cognitive functions.
Research shows that hearing aids improve brain health. This includes a 2020 study published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine. Conducted by researchers at the University of Melbourne, the study involved nearly 100 participants, ages 62-82, who had hearing loss. Researchers assessed the cognitive health of these participants before using hearing aids and 18 months after.
Cognitive capacity was assessed in multiple areas like attention, visual learning, decision making, and memory. Researchers found that after 18 months of wearing hearing aids: “97% of participants showed either clinically significant improvement or stability in executive function (mental ability to plan, organize information and initiate tasks)”. The impact of hearing aids on cognitive function(s) improves brain health in ways that can delay or prevent decline. This is key for aging healthily!
Treating Hearing Loss
Prioritizing your hearing health is simple. The first step is scheduling an appointment for a hearing test. You can do this by calling us today! Our practice is invested in transforming your health and quality of life.