Researchers Explore: Is Hearing Loss Linked to Dementia?

Are you finding the need to turn the TV up louder for a senior you love? Talking more loudly? Repeating points your senior loved one missed hearing the first time? Hearing loss in seniors is not uncommon. But ongoing scientific studies are looking to uncover whether hearing loss is linked to dementia.

How Hearing and Cognitive Functioning Are Related

There are a number of hypotheses researchers are exploring to explain the link between hearing loss and dementia:

  • An older brain shrinks more rapidly due to hearing loss.
  • The brain’s memory and thinking systems are impacted when it has to focus harder to strain to hear and also to fill in the gaps when communication is missed.
  • Decreased social interaction contributes to less mental stimulation and a less active and engaged brain.

It’s vitally important to pinpoint the precise reason behind this connection and to determine if treating hearing loss can help. The number of individuals who might be impacted is astonishing, with up to 37.5 million Americans currently experiencing some amount of hearing loss.

We already know that older adults with hearing loss have a decline in cognitive functioning at a rate of 30 – 40% faster than those with normal hearing. Not only that, but hearing loss escalates the risk for other health problems, most notably depression and falls.

The good news is that medical researchers at Johns Hopkins are currently trying to determine whether treating hearing loss could actually reduce 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 a senior 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.

Additionally, our dementia care specialists are available to help individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or any other form of dementia to stay safe, comfortable, and involved with meaningful and enjoyable activities. We can also assist with more effectively managing some of the challenging behaviors related to dementia, in particular aggression, agitation, wandering, sundowning, and so much more.

Contact Seniorcorp any time at 757-640-0557 for additional details on how we can help older adults live healthier lives at home. We offer a complimentary in-home consultation to answer all of your questions about our Norfolk home health care and to develop a personalized plan of care to best meet your needs. For a full list of all of the communities where we provide care, please visit our Service Area page.