Make the connection: Hearing loss and dementia

It’s a well-known fact that, as we get older, we tend to experience some level of decline in our cognitive ability. For some of us it may be mild, and for others more serious. Although a normal part of aging, typical issues tend to pop up, including forgetting details, taking longer to learn new things, and difficulty concentrating or focusing. We might not be able to stop it — but recent and emerging studies tell us that we may be able to slow it down.

And the great news is that understanding the link between hearing loss and brain fitness can help you get started on the road to better overall health.

The relationship between hearing loss and cognitive decline

Studies suggest a concerning association between hearing loss in older individuals and the heightened risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, often accompanied by a faster rate of cognitive decline. This correlation raises questions about the underlying mechanisms linking these conditions.

Researchers have several theories:

1. One has to do with cognitive load. With untreated hearing loss, the brain gets overworked by constantly straining to understand speech and sound. An overworked brain doesn’t work efficiently.

2. Another has to do with brain structure. Brain cells can shrink from lack of stimulation, including the parts of the brain that receive and process sound.

3. The last theory is social isolation. When a person has trouble hearing conversations and socializing, they may prefer staying home instead. However, the more isolated a person becomes, the less stimuli their brain receives. 

Hearing care is health care™

Dementia and cognitive decline aren’t the only conditions linked with hearing loss. Research associates it with a variety of other conditions, including:

  • Heart and cardiovascular disease
  • Diabetes
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Chronic kidney disease

Experts emphasize that maintaining good hearing health is essential for keeping our brains and bodies healthy as we age, as it fosters mental stimulation. Engaging in activities that stimulate the auditory system, such as listening to music, engaging in conversations, or even using hearing aids when necessary, can help preserve cognitive function and overall well-being. By prioritizing hearing health, individuals can proactively support their brain health and maintain a higher quality of life as they age.

Maintain your brain with hearing aids

Recent studies have demonstrated a significant correlation between the appropriate utilization of hearing aids and a reduced risk of dementia. By addressing hearing loss effectively, hearing aids provide individuals with improved auditory input, which may alleviate cognitive strain and enhance cognitive function. This proactive approach not only enhances quality of life but also underscores the importance of addressing sensory impairments in mitigating the risk of cognitive decline and dementia.

The researchers concluded that the key wasn’t simply the ability to hear better but, more importantly, how better hearing allowed them to stay involved in everyday life. By restoring the ability to better communicate, hearing aids can help improve social interactions, mood, and provide the opportunity to participate in brain-stimulating activities that can help slow cognitive decline.

Stay smart. Stay healthy.
Get your hearing tested.

Utilizing hearing aids to address hearing loss has shown promise in mitigating the advancement of cognitive decline. By improving auditory input, hearing aids can potentially alleviate cognitive strain, contributing to better cognitive function over time.  A hearing checkup is simply part of your overall health plan.

It’s never too early or too late to work on your hearing health. More than 35 million Americans suffer from hearing loss — and some are unaware of their condition, some are putting off making an appointment. But don’t let hearing loss go untreated over time. Make an appointment with HearAid Audiology Clinic for an evaluation.