How Are Hearing Loss and Dementia Related?

How Are Hearing Loss and Dementia Related?

January 15, 2019

You probably know that the chances of developing dementia and hearing loss grow larger as people get older, but did you know that hearing health in Fairbanks, AK and dementia are related in more ways than just age? Numerous studies have shown that people with hearing loss are more likely to develop dementia as time goes on. In some studies, scientists found that a person’s chances of developing dementia were five times higher if they reported severe hearing loss.

Granted, just because you have trouble hearing that doesn’t mean you’re going to get dementia later in your life, but it’s something to think about. Dr. Frank Lin at Johns Hopkins University is one of the many researchers performing studies on hearing loss and mental decline, and here are a few of the reasons he believes the two are related.

First off, people with hearing issues tend to feel more isolated from their friends and family. And why wouldn’t they? If you can’t hear, it’s tough to join in on any conversation and feel part of your community. Even if you can hear a little bit of what’s going on, you may feel ashamed to keep asking “what?” or “pardon me?” when you’re trying to have a conversation. This situation could lead to further and further isolation from loved ones. Sadly, research shows that feelings of isolation and loneliness speed up the process of mental decline.

Science has proven that our brains have a harder time processing sounds if we can’t hear well, which should make sense even to the layman. If your brain is focusing too hard on making sense of sounds, that takes away from other resources for tasks that your mind could be doing. As time goes on, your brain will have to work harder and harder to perform even the simplest of tasks, like remembering names or going through your daily routine.

Finally, nerves in your ears pick up sounds that are sent to your brain for processing. As these nerves become damaged (or even die), your brain receives fewer and fewer signals. Unfortunately, our brains seem to decline if they don’t receive enough stimulation. The moral of the story is that if you can keep hearing, you can help improve the odds that your brain keeps functioning as it should!

What can be done?

Apart from protecting your ears from loud noises, the best way to treat any hearing loss (and hopefully delay dementia) is to get fitted for new hearing aids in Fairbanks, AK. Advancements in hearing aid technology give users nearly perfect hearing. As an added bonus, hearing aids are quite small nowadays—you might not even know someone has a hearing aid at all!

If you or a loved one have trouble hearing, we recommend having a hearing test performed as soon as possible. If it’s determined that the patient does have any hearing loss, we can fit them for new hearing aids in Fairbanks, AK. The sooner patients get hearing aids, the lower their chances of developing dementia and the faster they can get back to living life as normally as possible.

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