I heard there is a link between dementia and hearing loss. Is this true?
Dementia is often a scary topic; its prevalence is expected to double every 20 years. Multiple studies by Dr. Frank Lin of John Hopkins and the National Institute on Aging have shown that hearing loss is independently associated with dementia. The risk of developing dementia increases with the severity of hearing loss. This correlation held true even when age, diabetes, and hypertension were ruled out.
When hearing loss is present, the brain is working overtime decoding sounds, thus taking away energy from cognition, listening, understanding, and memory. Hearing loss can also cause social isolation and that is another risk factor for dementia and other cognitive disorders. People find it much easier to “fake” following a conversation rather than constantly asking for repetition. Over time, this can lead to avoiding social situations altogether.
If you or someone you know starts to experience memory problems, schedule a hearing evaluation with an audiologist to find out if there is another issue at hand that could be treated. Monitoring of hearing loss is crucial when memory issues are present.
Bethany Magee Au.D.
Colonial Center for Hearing