Back in 1997, a clinical study was performed to determine the extent of cognitive decline that can occur due to hearing loss. It surveyed almost 2,000 adults, mostly seniors, who did not yet have any cognitive issues. At regular intervals after a certain number of years, every participant would be given a hearing test and two types of cognitive testing in order to separate the participants into groups of different levels of hearing to measure how it affected cognitive decline.
Of the 1,984 trial participants, 1,162 of them showed at least minimal hearing loss. This group showed a rate of cognitive decline that was 41% and 32% greater (depending on the specific test) than those who had normal hearing. As a result, the people with hearing loss were assessed to have a 24% increased risk of cognitive impairment during a six year period.
What does cognitive decline and cognitive impairment mean? It refers to a loss of basic cognitive abilities, such as:
- Problem solving
- Sight and other sensory perceptions
- Emotions and emotional control
- Self-control and impulse control
- Muscle control
When your cognitive abilities decline too much, it can lead to more serious conditions such as dementia.