Seeing and Hearing are Related to Brain Function

Seeing and Hearing are Related to Brain FunctionMany research studies have shown a direct correlation between the quality of a person’s vision and hearing and their rate of cognitive decline. Numerous studies have demonstrated a correlation between hearing loss and loss of memory, while other studies have demonstrated a correlation between the loss of eyesight — whether due to cataracts, diabetes or other eye abnormalities — with an increased risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

In two new studies, researchers from the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom, explored the reverse question: do people with hearing or eyesight problems who use medical technology to compensate for their problems decrease their risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease?

The researchers’ first study ,published in the journal PLOS ONE, focused on determining whether people with cataracts who underwent surgical procedures to improve their vision experienced a slower rate of cognitive decline than those who did not have the surgery.

The researchers, using data from the English Longitudinal Study of Aging, studied more than 2000 participants who received cataract surgery. The cognitive decline of these individuals was then compared to more than 3500 individuals included in the English Longitudinal Study of Aging who did not have cataract surgery.

Statistical analysis of the data revealed that the participants who underwent corrective surgery had a 50% slower rate of cognitive decline than the participants who did not receive corrective surgery.

The researcher’s second study, published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, focused on whether people with hearing loss who used hearing aids experienced a slower rate of cognitive decline compared to hearing-impaired individuals who declined the use of hearing aids. The results of this study were. This study used data from more than 2000 participants recruited by the Health and Retirement Study, conducted by the National Institute on Aging, between 1996 and 2014.

Statistical analysis of this data revealed an even stronger link to cognitive decline: participants who chose to use hearing aids had a 75% slower rate of cognitive decline than participants who chose not to use hearing aids.

The question unanswered by the study is why someone with vision or hearing loss would refuse to address their issue. The answer to this question may be complex and variable. However, anecdotally, it is known that many people remain in denial about their vision loss until it is too late.

Regarding hearing loss, vanity is often the obstacle to overcome. Hearing aids are often very conspicuous, and wearing them can cause a person to lose their sense of self-esteem. Other common complaints include the fact that they are uncomfortable, and that they do not amplify sound in a satisfactory way.

The good news is that new techniques and devices are being invented continuously. Eye surgery has become far less complicated over the years, and hearing devices are continuing to improve from both a functional and an aesthetic perspective.

The message for us is clear: the more isolated we become from the world around us, the faster we will age. Consequently, it seems unquestionably worthwhile to undergo whatever surgical procedure, or  use whatever electronic device we need, in order to help us maintain our ability to interact with the world around. Doing so will not only make us more connected to the world, it will even preserve our brain function.

At Hamilton Grove Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center, in Hamilton, NJ, our care programs are designed specifically to meet the unique needs and interests of seniors and long-term care patients. We emphasize restorative care, maximizing each patient’s potential to regain and maintain function and mobility.

We foster an environment that is cheerful and enthusiastic, so residents truly relish and appreciate life.

Our outstanding Social Services team works hard to ensure that every resident thrives socially, emotionally, and spiritually.

We promote a culture of independence, crucial for emotional, social, and physical health. Residents are encouraged to choose their activity and meal preferences, and to perform tasks and activities as self-sufficiently as possible.

We carefully select, train and re-train our wonderful caregivers, who are especially sensitive to the needs of our long-term care patients. They treat residents with love, compassion, and dignity.

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