Dementia: How Is Hearing Loss Connected?

Dementia: How Is Hearing Loss Connected?

alz.org

by Erik Maxwell, Au.D.

Too many times as audiologists we have people tell us that they have decided not to treat their hearing loss at this time.

There are many reasons why they choose not to pursue treatment. Some of these reasons include that they aren’t ready, or that they don’t think that the hearing loss is bad enough right now, or that they will just wait until the hearing loss gets really bad and people have to yell at them…..then they will do something.

I know that we have previously discussed some of the effects of untreated hearing loss (like depression, anxiety, withdrawal, etc.). Today, I would like to discuss untreated hearing loss and its effects on dementia.

There was a recent study conducted by Johns Hopkins otologist and epidemiologist Frank Lin, M.D., Ph.D. and other hearing experts, that found that older adults with hearing loss are more likely to develop problems thinking and remembering than older adults whose hearing is normal. This study also showed that individuals with hearing loss had their cognitive abilities decline 30—40 percent faster than those individuals with normal hearing.

Lin also found that seniors with hearing loss are significantly more likely to develop dementia over time than those who retain their hearing. The study also found that the more hearing loss they had, the higher their likelihood of developing dementia.

Let me repeat that: seniors with hearing loss are significantly more likely to develop dementia over time than those who retain their hearing.

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