Poor Vision and Hearing Loss Lead to Cognitive Decline
An increasing number of studies have suggested that compromised sensory function – vision loss and/or poor hearing, for example – is associated with a decline in cognitive abilities and increased dementia risk. The possible reason? When the brain must struggle with tasks like reading and understanding speech, it may be less able to perform other tasks.
In a recent study involving nearly 3,000 older adults and about 30,000 people on Medicare, researchers found evidence linking poor vision to declines in several cognitive functions, including memory, orientation, and planning ability. Evidence connecting hearing loss to cognitive decline is even stronger. In a study involving 1,984 older adults, those with hearing loss were 24 percent more likely to have experienced cognitive decline in a six-year period, and their cognitive abilities declined 40 percent faster than in those with normal hearing.
Although a cause-effect relationship has not been proven, people who are less engaged with the world receive less cognitive stimulation, and the less stimulation they receive, the more their cognitive function may decline, according to researchers.