November 17, 2023

Cognitive Reserve and Importance of Hearing

A recent article in The Times discusses the concept of ‘cognitive reserve’, the brain’s ability to withstand age-related changes, and it offers seven brain maintenance steps to boost cognitive reserve. Importantly, one of the key steps is the annual checking of hearing.

The association between hearing loss and cognitive decline is something we’ve discussed at length in our News Pages.

But, as reported in The Times, Andrew Sommerlad, associate professor of psychiatry at University College London (UCL), now underlines that there is a direct connection between hearing and preserving cognitive function.

“Research we have done at UCL shows that untreated hearing loss is one of the strongest risk factors for dementia risk,” says Sommerland.

“It is likely to be because you are more socially isolated, less able to engage in interactions with other people and to hear and retain the information you are given.”

The full list of 7 steps were as follows:

  1. Reduce Stress: Engage in activities like yoga, t’ai chi, or meditation to promote relaxation and indirectly support cognitive health.
  2. Plan for Retirement: Retire from cognitively stimulating jobs with caution, ensuring continued mental activity to prevent a faster cognitive decline.
  3. Socialize: Regular social interaction, even in various groups, is associated with a 30-50% lower dementia risk, providing a workout for the brain.
  4. Hearing Tests: Annual hearing tests after 40 can help preserve cognitive function, as untreated hearing loss is linked to dementia risk.
  5. Maintain Regular Sleep Patterns: Aim for seven to nine hours of sleep to enhance cognitive reserve and buffer against memory loss.
  6. Exercise: Engage in physical activity, such as brisk walks, runs, or weight lifting, to benefit memory, thinking skills, and overall cognitive reserve.
  7. Listen to Music: Playing a musical instrument or actively listening to music stimulates grey matter production, improving neuroplasticity and cognitive functioning.

Implementing these brain maintenance steps, along with a lifetime of education and curiosity, can contribute to building and maintaining cognitive reserve.

If you’d like to discuss your hearing with one of our audiologists or would like to check your hearing, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

To read the full article in The Times CLICK HERE