The Link Between Hearing Loss & Dementia

an older gentleman cupping a hand to his ear

A lot of different health conditions are closely linked with one and another. Some have links that you may not have anticipated. In this post, we are going to assess the link between dementia and hearing loss in particular. Adults who are experiencing some form of hearing loss have a greater risk of cognitive disorders, including Alzheimer’s. For those with a hearing loss that is over 25dB, the dementia risk increases. 

In accordance with a number of different key studies, older adults who have hearing loss, particularly men, are more likely to end up developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, when in comparison with those who have typical hearing. Men with hearing loss were 69% more likely to end up experiencing dementia in comparison to those who did not have any sort of hearing impairment. 

As the individual’s hearing gets worse, the risk gets greater. Anyone with a mild hearing issue is basically almost twice as likely to end up developing dementia when in comparison to those with normal hearing. For those with moderate hearing loss, the risk increases three-fold. Finally, for severe impairment, the risk then increases by five, so this really is something you do need to keep in mind and be mindful of. 

Understanding the link between dementia and hearing loss

A number of studies have shown that hearing loss results in changes to the brain that increase the dementia risk. Brain shrinkage is one issue that can cause this. This is when the brain’s hearing section grows inactive. It can cause the brain structure to change and tissue to be lost, and this ends up generating the first link between dementia and hearing loss.

There have been several studies carried out that have revealed that the brains of individuals with hair loss atrophy at a faster pace when compared with the brains of normal people. For those who are unaware, atrophy means for the brain to shrink. 

Not only does brain shrinkage explain the link between dementia and hearing loss, but we also need to consider brain overload as well. When our brains feel overwhelmed, the brain needs to work harder just to comprehend what people are saying. If you are struggling to hear every day, your mental energy is going to be depleted.

This is because your brainpower that is required for other crucial functions has been stolen to focus on hearing. This is brainpower that may have been used on other critical functions like acting, thinking and remembering. This can further result in dementia and other cognitive disorders and diseases.

Another link that we need to consider when it comes to hearing loss and dementia is social isolation. There was a study that was carried out on 2,300 adults that had a hearing impairment. This was conducted by the National Council on the Aging (NCOA).

It determined that individuals with untreated hearing loss were more likely to encounter paranoia, anxiety, depression, worry and loneliness, which would mean they are less likely to join in with activities. The risk for dementia gets greater when we withdraw from life.

You can help to prevent dementia with hearing aids

There have been a number of different studies that show that hearing aids will not only enhance an individual’s hearing, but they can also be beneficial in terms of preserving your social life, home life, work-life, physical health, emotional health, mental ability and independence. This can help to keep your brain active. 

So, if you or someone you love has started to show signs of dementia, no matter how small they may be, it makes sense to book an appointment with an audiologist as soon as possible. A lot of people think that undiagnosed symptoms of hearing loss are dementia symptoms, when they are not.

The truth is that everyone is different, and diseases and illnesses show themselves in many ways. It is not worth taking a risk, though, as damage like this cannot just be reversed. So, if you are worried about dementia in any way, book an appointment with an audiologist as soon as you are able to.

Contact us today for more information about hearing loss

If you are worried about hearing loss, irrespective of whether you have dementia or this is a concern, the team at Flynn Associates is here to help. Call us today at Concord: (978) 369-6666 and Wellesley: (781) 235-8110