Can Treating Hearing Loss Reduce the Risk for Dementia?
Have you been raising your voice so a senior you love can hear you? Are you finding the need to turn the TV up louder for a senior in your life? Repeating yourself because a senior loved one didn’t hear you the first time? Hearing loss in older adults is not uncommon. But fresh scientific studies are pointing to a startling link between hearing loss and a heightened risk for dementia, which leads to the need to determine if treating hearing loss may actually reduce that risk.
How Hearing and Cognitive Functioning Are Linked
There are a few hypotheses researchers are exploring to explain the connection between hearing loss and dementia:
- Less social interaction results in less intellectual stimulation and a less active and engaged brain.
- The brain’s thinking and memory systems are impacted when it has to work harder to strain to hear and to fill in the gaps when communication is missed.
- An older brain shrinks more rapidly due to hearing loss.
It’s vital to establish the exact cause of this connection and to figure out if treating hearing loss can help. The number of people who could be impacted is astonishing, with as many as 37.5 million Americans currently having some level of hearing loss.
Currently, we know that people diagnosed 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 increases the risk for other health issues, such as falls and depression.
On the bright side, Johns Hopkins researchers are currently attempting to determine if 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 early as the coming year, we’ll have the information required for a path forward.
If a senior you love is struggling with hearing loss, encourage them to get a checkup and to wear hearing aids if recommended by the physician. Our caregivers can even provide accompaniment for that checkup if needed.
In addition, our dementia care specialists are available to help those with Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia to stay comfortable, safe, and engaged in meaningful and enjoyable activities. We can also help with more effectively managing some of the challenging behaviors related to dementia, such as aggression, agitation, wandering, sundowning, and more.
Contact us any time online or at (954) 486-6440 for more information about how we can help seniors live healthier lives at home with our home care assistance in Fort Lauderdale and the nearby areas. We offer a free in-home consultation to answer all of your questions and to develop a personalized plan of care to best meet your needs.