hearing aids are one of the secrets of cognitive super agers

Hearing Aids are One of the “Secrets of Cognitive Super Agers”

Brain atrophy occurs as we age, resulting in less robust connectivity between different brain regions, and this causes memory loss and other cognitive impairments. However, a small subset of elderly people known as “super-agers” are just as good at learning and remembering new material as a 25-year-old. Scientists have figured out what kind of brain activity accounts for super agers’ better recall for the first time.


A super-ager is a person in their 70s or older who possesses the mental and physical capabilities of someone who is several decades junior. New studies reveal that people who live to be 100 and still have good brain health are likely to live long and healthy lives. Since only a tiny percentage of people in the United States live to be 100, researchers are particularly interested in researching centenarians and finding the qualities that contribute to healthy aging of the mind and body.


A spotlight on successful aging 

As more research is done on centenarians, trends that lead to aging well are becoming increasingly apparent. The JAMA Network published research on healthy centenarians’ cognitive aging in January, and this is one example.


The study, conducted by researchers at Amsterdam’s Vrije University, featured 340 cognitively sound centenarians. Sixty percent were self-sufficient, and the vast majority had good vision and hearing.


Participants’ cognitive abilities were thoroughly assessed at their yearly visits. Follow-up data collected over four years showed that:


Despite being exposed to risk factors like Alzheimer’s, participants’ cognitive performance remained high while only showing a slight reduction in memory, but all other cognitive domains remained stable. Participants were found to be cognitively resilient even in the face of increasing risk of cognitive deterioration.


The key is cognitive resilience

What, then, was it about these cognitive super-agers that kept them so young-at-mind? People with this cognitive reserve may be more resilient to changes in brain function than previously thought, and this ability to bounce back may slow down the aging process in the brain. Even though some centenarians may be suffering from mild cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s disease does not manifest until much later in life, if ever.


A person’s ability to adapt to changes in their brain is called their “cognitive reserve.” A person may be at high risk for dementia, yet they may not show any symptoms for a long time even if the risk is known in advance.


How to become a ‘super-ager’

People who are cognitive super-agers have a variety of traits, including the following:


  • Healthy diet: Maintaining a healthy weight by following a balanced diet. 
  • Regular social contact: Cognitive super-aging is more common in those who maintain a high level of social engagement and involvement in numerous leisure pursuits.
  • Exercise: Maintaining a healthy physique and engaging in physical activities means you’ll have a more sharp mind. 
  • A cognitively demanding job: Cognitive super-aging is more common in older persons who have a greater level of education or have held positions of responsibility. 


Hearing aids have been shown to enhance cognitive function as well

In the absence of treatment, untreated hearing loss leads to confusing sound signals, making our brains work harder than they should hear, depleting other brain resources. Hearing loss can put a significant cognitive strain on the brain over time, and that’s why hearing loss has been linked to an increased risk of cognitive decline in numerous studies. 


Fortunately, hearing loss is treatable, and once you do, you’ll reap the rewards for the rest of your life. When you use hearing aids to correct your hearing loss, you’re giving your brain better sound signals to work with, so it can better allocate its resources to other areas that need it, including balance, memory, and communication. You will also be less likely to acquire Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia if you correct your hearing loss and remain socially active.


Researchers from the University of Melbourne evaluated the influence of hearing aids on the brain in a study just published in Science Daily. Over 100 people who used hearing aids were analyzed, and researchers found that executive function (the capacity to plan, organize, and initiate tasks) improved significantly for virtually all of them. This included improvements in speech perception and listening as well as the quality of life.


Treating Hearing Loss


Make an appointment with our team now for a hearing test if you think you might benefit from hearing loss therapy. See for yourself how hearing aids can enhance your cognitive ability as well as your overall well-being!