Are hearing loss and dementia connected?

elderly couple heairng difficulties and dementia

elderly couple heairng difficulties and dementiaAre hearing loss and dementia connected?

Are you trying to have a conversation but not hearing a word?  It could be cognitive “overload”, where the brain is so preoccupied with translating the sounds into words that it seems to have no processing power left to search through the storerooms of memory for a response.

In a study published earlier in the year it showed that there seems to be a strong association between hearing loss and both the earlier onset and the more serious degrees of dementia, even with a milder hearing loss, but especially with very severe hearing losses.  In the study, they found that those with hearing losses had a “30 to 40 percent faster rate of loss of memory and thinking abilities” over a six-year period compared to people with normal hearing.  Again, the worse the hearing loss, the worse the rate of cognitive decline.

A hearing aid should help but it all depends on the way hearing aids are used:  for how long; how frequently; how well the aids were fitted; what kind of counselling the user received and what other technologies were used to supplement the hearing-aid use.  A user must practice to maximize the effectiveness of the aid which might need reprogramming by an audiologist.  Seeing your audiologist on a regular basis and great follow up is a must.  Additional assistive technologies may be required.  People with progressive hearing losses might also need new aids every few years.

Could we do something to reduce cognitive decline and delay the onset of dementia? Get your hearing tested, get it corrected, and enjoy a longer cognitively active life.