Dementia and Hearing Loss

Dementia Hearing loss

“Seniors with hearing loss are significantly more likely to develop dementia over time than those who retain their hearing….”1

Your hearing loss may lead to the development of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease…

The results of recent studies on hearing loss and the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease indicate that hearing loss may, in fact, contribute to a loss of mental function. Yet the fact that leaving hearing loss untreated has the potential to cause these degenerative conditions is not widely known among the hearing impaired. Providing information on the risks of dementia and Alzheimer’s in conjunction with hearing health, may encourage patients to make more informed decisions about their hearing care earlier on; before any damage has been done.

One of these studies on the relationship between the loss of hearing in relation to the loss of mental function was conducted by Dr. Frank R. Lin (MD Ph.D.). His research involved the observation of a group of 1,984 people with a mean age of 77.4 years over the course of six years, with Dr. Lin tracking the progression of their hearing loss in relation to the deterioration of their cognitive function. The study concluded that there is little doubt that hearing loss is a factor in the development of dementia and Alzheimer’s in elderly patients. Lin’s study also indicated the greater the severity of the hearing impediment, the greater the chance is of developing a cognitive disorder – and the faster the deterioration of mental function. However, even subjects with only a mild hearing impediment were found to be more likely to experience cognitive failure in comparison to those with full hearing function.

“Declines in hearing abilities may accelerate grey matter atrophy and increase the listening effort necessary to comprehend speech…Hearing aids may not only improve hearing but preserve the brain.”2

Early diagnosis and treatment of hearing loss may slow the progression of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

People with hearing loss wait on average seven years from their initial diagnosis to seek treatment – although the sooner hearing loss is detected and treatment begins, the more of their hearing can be preserved. Treatment may include the fitting of a hearing device to decrease the impact of your hearing loss. If you are concerned about your potential hearing loss, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

 

1 Johns Hopkins Medicine. Hearing Loss Accelerates Brain Function Decline in Older Adults. 2013 (http://www. hopkinsmedicine.org/news/media/releases/hearing_loss_ accelerates_brain_function_decline_in_older_adults)

2 University of Pennsylvania – Perelman School of Medicine, Jonathan Peele, Ph.D. 2011 (www.sciencedaily.com/ releases/2011/08/110831115946.htm)