Hearing Loss and Dementia Risk

Have you been looking for a reason to get your hearing checked? The customary answer to this question is typically, “no”.
However, there is some very intriguing new information that might cause you to change your view, and possibly the opinions of many. A recent study conducted at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, in conjunction with the National Institute on Aging, found that older adults with hearing loss were more likely to develop cognitive decline over time than those who retained their hearing. This does not mean that all persons who experience hearing loss will develop dementia, but the study did find that those with severe hearing loss were up to five times more likely to develop cognitive impairment, and that even a mild hearing loss doubled a person’s risk.
Hearing loss in older adults has been perceived as an unfortunate part of aging for years. Dr. Frank Lin’s (Johns Hopkins University) research is now demonstrating that hearing loss not only affects a person’s quality of life, but may possibly lead to a decline in cognitive function. Currently more research needs to be performed to more thoroughly investigate the correlation between cognitive decline and hearing loss. Dr. Lin thinks that the neurological stress of hearing loss, such as the extra effort needed to decode conversations may take a toll on the system. It is known that people with hearing loss tend to avoid social situations, which often leads to social isolation, and is a risk factor for dementia. The question of whether early action to treat hearing loss with hearing aids may help delay dementia needs to be studied further. Hearing loss is the third most prevalent chronic health problem in older adults, and left untreated can exacerbate other existing health issues. If hearing loss is present it is in a persons’ best interest to treat it with appropriate amplification. To ensure you receive the best care, seek the expertise of an audiologist!

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