The Connection Between Dementia and Hearing Loss and How Treatment May Help

senior man wearing hearing aid because of hearing loss
Research is revealing a link between the risk for dementia and hearing loss; can treatment help?

 

Are you finding the need to turn the TV up louder for a senior you love? Talking more loudly? Repeating points the senior missed hearing the first time? Hearing loss in seniors is not uncommon. But recent research is pointing to a surprising connection between the risk for dementia and hearing loss.

How Hearing and Cognitive Functioning Are Connected

There are several hypotheses scientists are investigating to explain the connection between hearing loss and dementia:

  1. An older brain shrinks more rapidly as the result of hearing loss.
  2. Decreased social interaction contributes to less intellectual stimulation and a less active and engaged brain.
  3. The brain’s thinking and memory systems are impacted when it has to focus harder to strain to hear and to fill in the gaps when communication is missed.

It is vitally important to pinpoint the exact reason behind this connection and to see if treating hearing loss can help. The number of people who could be impacted is astounding, with up to 37.5 million Americans currently encountering some degree of hearing loss.

We already know that seniors with hearing loss have a decline in cognitive functioning at a rate of 30 – 40% faster compared to those with normal hearing. Not just that, but hearing loss increases the risk for additional health issues, most notably depression and falls.

The good news is that medical researchers at Johns Hopkins are currently trying to determine whether treating hearing loss might actually decrease brain aging and prevent dementia. A study of almost 1,000 older adults with hearing loss is underway, and by as soon as the coming year, we will have the information needed for a path forward.

If an older adult you love has difficulties with hearing loss, encourage them to get a checkup and to wear hearing aids if recommended by the doctor. Our care providers can even provide transportation for that checkup if needed.

As the top provider of home care assistance in Raleigh, NC and nearby areas, our dementia care specialists are available to assist those with Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia to stay safe, comfortable, and engaged in enjoyable and meaningful activities. We can also assist with more effectively managing a number of the challenging behaviors associated with dementia, in particular aggression, agitation, wandering, sundowning, and so much more.

Just reach out to us any time at 919-426-7522 for additional details on how we can help older adults live healthier lives at home. We offer a free in-home consultation to answer all of your questions and to develop a personalized care plan to best meet your needs.

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