Hearing impairment is associated with accelerated cognitive decline with age (Representative image) & nbsp | & nbspPhoto Credit: & nbspGetty Images
new York: Hearing impairment is linked to accelerated cognitive decline with age, although the impact of mild hearing loss may be reduced by higher education, researchers say. The results show that those with more serious hearing impairment had a worse performance on the initial visit to a pair of commonly used cognitive assessments. However, the association of mild hearing impairment with the rate of cognitive decline has been altered by education, researchers at the University of California, San Diego said.
"We suppose that higher education can provide sufficient cognitive reserve to counteract the effects of mild hearing loss but is not enough to overcome the effects of heavier hearing impairment," says senior author Linda K. McEvoy, Professor.
For the study published in the Journal of Gerontology: Series A Medical Sciences, the research team traced 1164 participants with an average age of 73.5 years, of which 64% were women. All received estimates of hearing accuracy and cognitive function between 1992 and 1996 and had up to five subsequent cognitive assessments at intervals of approximately four years. No one has used a hearing aid.
They found that nearly half of the participants had mild hearing impairment, with 16.8% suffering from moderate to severe hearing loss. The team said that mild hearing impairment is associated with a sharper decrease in the number of participants in college but not higher education.
The slight hearing impairment is associated with a sharper decline among participants in college education, but not among those with higher education. Moderate to severe hearing impairment is associated with a more severe cognitive decline, regardless of educational level, researchers say.