Are Hearing Loss and Dementia Linked?

Did you know that June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month? It’s a time to “go purple” and show support for people around the world struggling with Alzheimer’s and Dementia. There is increasing evidence that shows a connection between dementia and hearing loss. The Hearing Loss Association of America notes that ‘hearing loss may increase the risk of cognitive problems and even dementia.’

Dementia and Alzheimer’s

Dictionary.com defines Alzheimer’s as “a common form of dementia, believed to be caused by changes in the brain, usually beginning in late middle age, characterized by memory lapses, confusion, emotional instability, and progressive loss of mental ability.”

Dementia is “a general term for a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life.” It could cause problems with memory, thinking, language, problem-solving and perception.

Alzheimer’s disease is the cause of 70% of Dementia cases. It is a serious health concern. Estimates show that on average, 1 in 10 men and 1 in 6 women over the age of 55 will develop dementia.

How are Hearing Loss and Dementia Linked?

Hearing loss has the potential to impair both your memory and cognitive functions. A study found that those with moderate to severe hearing loss saw an increased decline in memory and mental abilities- a difference equal to approximately three years in age. As hearing loss is preventable, increasing studies into the correlation between hearing loss and dementia could lead to more hearing loss screening services and intervention.

One study by John Hopkins showed that the risk of developing dementia was influenced by the severity of hearing loss. Specifically:

  • X 2 for those with mild hearing loss.
  • X 3 for those with moderate hearing loss
  • X 5 for those with severe hearing loss

Other reasons that hearing loss and dementia may be connected include: 

  • Hearing loss, particularly untreated hearing loss, can lead to social isolation. Rather than struggle hearing in loud environments or social events, people may instead withdraw from social interaction. This means your brain is having to process fewer sound stimulus. This can actually cause the parts of your brain that are no longer being used to shrink.
  • Brain imaging MRI scans of older adults with a hearing loss showed visibly less gray matter in the sound processing and receiving area of the brain. The study’s findings could suggest that the under used cells in our brains shrink. This can end up leading to dementia or cognitive decline.
  • Straining to hear puts a lot of stress on your brain. The extra cognitive load and associated stress may reduce the amount of available energy that the brain has left for memory function.

Get Your Hearing Checked at Hearing Aid Specialists of CT!

Regular hearing assessments should be a part of your annual health checks. Protecting your hearing is also an important element to keep your ears in tip-top shape. Have further questions about how to improve your hearing health? Give the hearing care professionals at Hearing Aid Specialists of CT a call today on 888-657-5768 or click here to book an appointment online.

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The purpose of this hearing assessment and/or demonstration is for hearing wellness and to determine if the consumer may benefit from using hearing aids, which may include selling and fitting hearing aids. Products demonstrated may differ from products sold. Assessment conclusion is not a medical diagnosis and further testing may be required to diagnose hearing loss. The use of any hearing aid may not fully restore normal hearing and does not prevent future hearing loss. Hearing instruments may not meet the needs of all hearing-impaired individuals.