The Connection Between Hearing Loss and Dementia
By gahear on January 30, 2024 in Hearing Loss
Do you find yourself regularly asking others to repeat themselves? Do people seem to mumble around you? Is it difficult to follow conversations when two or more people are speaking? Does background noise make the situation worse? According to the National Institute on Aging, these are some of the most common signs of hearing loss, a condition not uncommon in older adults. In fact, about two-thirds of all Americans over the age of 70 suffer from some form of hearing loss. And if you’re one of those Americans experiencing age-related hearing loss, you know for a fact how frustrating and isolating it can be.
Why? Humans are social creatures and while following a healthy diet and exercise regimen are important keys to good physical health, we also need to maintain and nourish our social relationships. We do that by communicating, engaging with one another in a wide variety of family, business and social situations. It’s essential for healthy minds–and healthy brains.
How Hearing Loss Affects Brain Health
Have you heard the old adage, “Use it or lose it?” For years, scientists have studied connections between brain function and hearing loss. Various theories abound, including the suggestion that a decline in hearing results in a loss of intellectual stimulation and therefore less activity going on in the cognitive processing regions of our brains. Scientists don’t know the whole story yet, but something is clearly lost when that function slows down.
Other studies suggest that hearing loss causes the brain to have to work harder to piece together the parts of conversations that are missed. Studies have found that this can happen at the expense of other important cognitive brain functions.
One thing is certain. An unfortunate side effect of age-related hearing loss is simply that when people can’t hear well, they tend to feel less comfortable in social situations. This can cause them to pull back further from regular social opportunities and only worsen the situation.
Hearing Loss and Dementia
In recent years, scientists have begun delving deeper into the correlation between hearing loss and brain function, particularly if a decline in hearing might contribute to the onset of dementia.
A recent study out of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health appears to point in that direction. The researchers looked at a group of more than 2,400 Medicare beneficiaries over the age of 65–853 who suffer from moderate to severe hearing loss. Their analysis found that participants with dementia was significantly higher in those with moderate to severe hearing loss than in participants with hearing in the normal range.
Additionally, of those 853 hearing-impaired participants, the researchers found that for those who used hearing aids, dementia was 32 percent less prevalent among them. This new research has created renewed interest in the importance of treatments for hearing loss and the necessary role hearing aids can play.
The Good News
While age-related hearing loss can’t be reversed, getting tested and fitted for hearing aids can often greatly improve one’s ability to hear and stay socially and mentally active. Better hearing and social engagement can help ward off feelings of isolation and depression and may even reduce the risk of dementia.
You feel better when you hear better. If you’re even a little bit concerned about your hearing loss, don’t wait. Schedule a consultation at any one of Georgia Hearing Aid Factory Outlet’s six convenient locations. Talk with one of our hearing aid experts to discuss your specific needs. We’ll provide you with a free hearing test and a 30-day, risk-free tryout of any of our digital hearing aids so you can feel comfortable with your decision. Call us today!