Hearing loss and dementia linked?

By Kim Kragt, CCC-A, MA, Bronson Constance Brown Hearing Center

As we age, many of us face changes in our ability to hear. But did you know that hearing loss may contribute to a higher risk of developing dementia?

Several studies show that untreated hearing loss may lead to cognitive decline or even Alzheimer’s disease. While the exact reasons are still being explored, experts believe there are some strong explanations.

Hearing loss can have a significant impact on brain function. When we struggle to hear, our brains have to work harder to process sounds and understand speech. Over time, this increased cognitive load can lead to changes in brain structure and function. The areas of the brain responsible for processing sounds may weaken. This affects other brain functions such as memory and problem-solving.

People with untreated hearing loss may find it challenging to engage in conversations or social activities. This can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation, which have been linked with cognitive decline. Maintaining brain health as we age requires regular socializing and mental enrichment. These activities play a crucial role in keeping our minds sharp and healthy.

As you age, regular hearing check-ups can help you get ahead of hearing loss. This is especially true if you notice a change in your ability to hear or communicate. By addressing hearing loss early, you can improve your quality of life, which may reduce cognitive decline.

A study from the National Council on Aging reported that hearing aid users had better emotional, social and cognitive well-being than those with untreated hearing loss. They also experienced less depression, anxiety, isolation and had improved relationships with family and friends.

Using hearing aids can enhance job performance and productivity. A study done by the Better Hearing Institute found that employees with untreated hearing loss had more difficulty in the workplace. When hearing aids were used, their performance improved.

While no one can say for sure that using hearing aids will decrease your risk of developing dementia, there are strong indications that suggest it. What we do know for use is that hearing aids will improve your quality of life.

Many patients we see have spent years avoiding group settings and removing themselves from social situations because of their hearing.

Don’t let this happen to you. If you or a loved one is having difficulty hearing, call us to schedule an appointment or talk to your doctor about a referral to Bronson Constance Brown Hearing Center.

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