A new study has found that hearing loss makes people to suffer emotion problems associated with their difficulty in understanding people, and this could lead to declined job performance and reduced quality of life over time. The reason for this is that people who are hard of hearing put so much effort into understanding people – and effort that tasks their mental resources, and could interfere with cognitive abilities.
However, an assistant professor in the speech-language pathology program at The University of Texas at El Paso revealed that people who use hearing aids can experience heightened brain functions and improved social life according to series of studies conducted by her team.
"If you have some hearing impairment and you're not using hearing aids, maybe you can figure out what the person has said, but that comes with a cost," Desjardins explained. "You may actually be using the majority of your cognitive resources - your brain power - in order to figure out that message."
The researchers point out that the ability of people to process information quickly or pay attention to others in a noisy environment decreases as people age. The authors of the study recruited people aged 50 to 60 with bilateral sensorineural hearing loss who had never worn hearing aids.
The participants were asked to take cognitive tests to determine their working memory, mental processing speed, and selective attention before and after trying hearing aids. Two weeks after using the aids, the participants were noted to experience increased mental memory, event recall, processing speed and other cognitive tests.
Desjardins noted that many people will experience hearing loss in their lifetime, and people who have hearing loss without using hearing aids spend so much of their brainpower trying to focus on others listening. This may affect their job performance, and makes them exhausted at the end of the day.
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About 10 million Americans between the age of 45-64 years suffer from hearing loss, and 9 million Americans over the age of 65 have the same problem. Hearing Aid Research disclosed that out of all the people that require hearing aids, only 20% have access to one.