As we get older, we’re more likely to experience sensory impairment, specifically hearing loss and vision loss. In fact, the National Institute on Aging reports one in three people ages 65 to 74 has hearing loss; for those 75 and older, the number jumps to one in two. In addition, a 2016 study reveals vision impairment affects approximately one in four people over 80.
Sensory loss can have major impacts on your quality of life, from trouble conversing with friends at Bartlett Senior Center during a billiards game to problems filling out your bingo card. However, it can also have devastating effects on your cognitive health. We review the connection below.
The Effects of Untreated Hearing Loss
Researchers at Johns Hopkins established a strong link between untreated hearing loss and dementia. According to the authors, “Compared with volunteers with normal hearing, those with mild, moderate, and severe hearing loss had twofold, threefold, and fivefold, respectively, the risk of developing dementia over time. The more hearing loss they had, the higher their likelihood of developing the memory-robbing disease.”
In another similar study, they found that, “Volunteers with hearing loss… had cognitive abilities that declined some 30 percent to 40 percent faster than in those whose hearing was normal… On average, older adults with hearing loss developed a significant impairment in their cognitive abilities 3.2 years sooner than those with normal hearing.”
The Effects of Untreated Vision Loss
A 2021 study reports, “A recent systematic review and metanalysis reported that vision impairment is associated with 2.4-fold greater odds of cognitive impairment in existing cross-sectional studies and 1.7-fold greater odds in longitudinal studies.” Therefore, like hearing loss, vision loss is associated with an increased risk of cognitive decline.
The Effects of Dual Sensory Impairment
If you experience both hearing loss and vision loss, you’re even more at risk. A study from 2022 found, “For older adults with dual sensory impairment, the odds of cognitive impairment were eight-fold.”
Protect Your Cognitive Health
For more information or to schedule an appointment with a hearing expert, call Torrance Audiology today.