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The Link Between Dementia and Hearing Loss

Oct 31, 2013 The Link Between Dementia and Hearing Loss

November is National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, and audiologists including those at the Hearing Aid Doctors, are working to raise awareness about the link between dementia and hearing loss. Find out more…

A study published out of Johns Hopkins University earlier this year found that hearing loss is associated with faster decline in cognitive functioning in older adults. Researchers found that older adults who have hearing impairment are more likely to have problems thinking and remembering things than those older adults who have no trouble with their hearing. The six-year study showed that those with greater hearing loss had greater declines in brain function.

The Worse The Hearing, The Worse The Dementia

Another study by one of the Johns Hopkins researchers from 2011 showed similar findings – that those with hearing loss were more likely to develop dementia than those whose hearing was normal. And this study also found that the worse the hearing impairment, the higher the likelihood of developing dementia.

Mild Hearing Loss Impairs Brain Function

The 2011 study also found that those subjects with mild to moderate hearing loss performed worse on cognitive tests than those subjects with normal hearing. Even mild hearing loss made a big difference in test performance. The tests showed a strong link between how well someone can hear and how they process sound into information – this takes more brain activity than just interpreting the sound as a voice or an instrument or a car.

If You Can’t Hear, You Can’t Understand

The study found that those people with hearing loss spent so much brain effort just trying to hear, that their ability to understand what was being said, and to remember what was said, was greatly diminished. Even untreated mild hearing loss causes the brain to work so differently to listen to sounds in the environment that brain resources are diverted away from deeper comprehension and memory.

Save Your Hearing, Save Your Brain

You or a loved one may be living with mild to moderate hearing loss right now, and not realize it. But the effects are far-reaching, and long-lasting. Make an appointment today with one of our experienced audiologists.


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