Reduce Dementia Risk by Treating Hearing Loss

hearing loss

1 in 3 seniors is affected by hearing loss

Hearing loss can’t be seen, so you might think your older adult’s odd behavior is caused by disinterest, confusion, or personality changes. And sometimes, hearing loss can even be confused with signs of dementia.

But hearing loss is actually the 3rd most common physical condition after arthritis and heart disease. In fact, by age 65, 1 out of 3 people has hearing loss.

Unfortunately, only 20% of people who could benefit from hearing treatment actually seek help. Most put it off until they can’t communicate even in the best listening situations.

We explain why untreated hearing loss is such a serious issue and 3 reasons why hearing loss increases dementia risk.




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Untreated hearing loss is linked to serious health conditions

Multiple studies have found links between hearing loss, cognitive decline, and dementia. But something as simple as a hearing aid or hearing amplifier could have a huge influence on healthy brain function.

Over 6 years, cognitive abilities (like memory and concentration) of people with hearing loss declined 30 – 40% faster than in people with normal hearing. Hearing loss is also linked to increased stress, depression, bad moods, and increased hospitalization and fall risks.

That means untreated hearing loss is a much bigger problem than having the TV on too loud or shouting during normal conversation.

 

Why hearing loss could cause dementia

There are 3 main theories for why hearing loss might increase the risk of cognitive decline and dementia.

1. Cognitive load
If the brain is constantly coping with sounds that are difficult to hear, it’s busy processing those sounds and can’t spend energy on things like memory and thinking.

2. Brain atrophy
Hearing impairment could contribute to faster rates of wasting away in parts of the brain that process sound.

Those parts of the brain also help with memory and senses. They’ve also been shown to be involved in early stages of mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease.

3. Social isolation
People who have a hard time hearing often withdraw from social activities because it’s so hard to communicate with other people. Many studies have found that decreased social engagement and loneliness are risk factors for cognitive decline.

 

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By DailyCaring Editorial Team
Image: Functional Neurochemistry Program


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