Hearing Loss And DementiaSep 11, 2013
Hearing loss is already a major concern for people as they get older. But now, a new study out of Johns Hopkins University has found a link between hearing loss and dementia. Read on to find out more.
Hearing loss affects almost 30 million Americans over the age of 50, but only 15 percent of those people wear hearing aids. This means that there are over 25 million Americans out there, getting older and not doing anything to correct their hearing loss. This has consequences on their work, their family lives, their social interactions, and maybe even their brain function.
New Research on Hearing Loss and Brain Function
Researchers at Johns Hopkins University have found that hearing impaired adults between the ages of 74-85 were at an increased risk of suffering from memory loss and cognitive problems than those in the same age bracket with normal hearing.
People have known for a long time that hearing often decreases as you get older, but the potential cognitive decline associated with this hearing loss is only just being discovered now.
Hearing Loss Leads To Significant Impairment
The study was run on over 2000 participants over six years, and researchers found that the level of brain functioning was directly related to hearing loss, and that those with hearing loss suffered “significant cognitive impairment” over 3 years earlier than those with normal hearing.
How Hearing Loss Affects Brain Function
Why does this happen? To put it simply, your inner ear takes in complex sounds and converts them into a signal that goes to your brain. When the inner ear doesn’t do this conversion well anymore, the brain gets a muddled messaged. This means that the brain has to give more energy and resources to hearing and processing sound, and those resources are diverted at the cost of something else.
Other Risk Factors
Another major risk factor of dementia is social isolation, and we already know that those with hearing loss tend to withdraw from their family and friends. They are more reserved; they are less likely to go out and less likely to engage in conversation. All of these could also be contributing factors to diminished brain function.
Hearing Aids Can Help
Hearing aids can help people maintain normal hearing function, and may be able to help alleviate the decline in brain function associated with hearing loss. Our trained audiologists can give you a thorough hearing evaluation, and if necessary, fit you with the most appropriate hearing aids for you, to keep you engaged in your surroundings, and in your life.
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