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Demential and Hearing Loss...what is the connection? Davis Family Hearing.

Is There a Connection Between Hearing Loss and Dementia?

According to the Hearing Loss Association of America, one-fifth of Americans have hearing loss, including 15 percent of people between the ages of six and 19.1 As may be expected, the number of hearing loss diagnoses jumps to one third for those between 65 and 74 and one half for those over age 75.2

Many of the effects of hearing loss are well-documented, including:

  • Miscommunication
  • Increased susceptibility to injury due to missed warning signals
  • Difficulty learning and remembering
  • Relationship strain
  • Loneliness
  • Anxiety, paranoia and depression
  • Troubles in the workplace

However, recent studies have indicated yet another connection – this time, between hearing loss and dementia.

What the Studies Say

One of the researchers at the forefront of hearing loss research in North America is Dr. Frank Lin from Johns HopkinsBrain studies show there is a correlation between hearing loss and the signs of dementia. Call Davis Family Hearing for any questions. University. His research group has released several studies, starting in 2011, documenting the possible connection between hearing loss and dementia. Over the course of his research, he has found that older adults with hearing loss:

  • Are much more likely to develop dementia than those with normal hearing
    • Mild hearing loss – two times as likely
    • Moderate hearing loss – three times as likely
    • Severe hearing loss – five times as likely
  • Experience a decline in cognitive abilities 30 to 40 percent faster than those with normal hearing3
  • Are 24 percent more likely to experience a decline in cognitive abilities than those with normal hearing, if their hearing loss impacts conversation4

Other studies seem to uphold Dr. Lin’s findings, although there continues to be conflicting evidence.

What’s the Connection?

As of right now, researchers aren’t sure what the connection between dementia and hearing loss may be. You might expect that problems associated with aging, such as reduced cardiovascular function, might reasonably affect both hearing and mental processing. If that were the case, the “connection” between hearing loss and dementia would not be a true connection at all, but merely several symptoms stemming from the same problem.

So far, this doesn’t seem to be the most likely explanation. Even studies that controlled for such risk factors have found anDementia and hearing are controlled by the brain, so it's possible to lose hearing and not realize the main cause. Davis Family Hearing. independent connection between hearing loss and dementia.

What else could be at play, then? Here are just a few of the possibilities:

  • Increased cognitive load – Cognitive load is the amount of effort someone must put into committing information to working or short-term memory. This is much more difficult for someone with hearing loss, as they may be trying to string sounds together, read lips or pay attention to body language instead of absorbing the content of a conversation. This may be related to the memory problems often seen in those with dementia.
  • Less gray matter – Our brains are always changing and shifting shape as we go about life. In the same way jawbones atrophy and dwindle without teeth, brain cells will shrink if they are not kept active. Certain parts of our brain are responsible for interpreting sound, and these same areas also play a role in learning and memory. Hearing loss reduces stimulation in these areas, decreasing the gray matter, which may increase the chance of dementia.
  • Social isolation – Those with hearing loss can quickly become frustrated in social situations. Noisy crowds can be overwhelming, and the person may even feel embarrassed that they cannot keep up with conversations. As a result, many people with hearing loss become socially isolated and develop mental illnesses like depression. Social isolation and depression are also correlated to dementia.

How to Keep Yourself Healthy

This research merely shows a general connection between hearing loss and the development of dementia later in life. As such, the findings cannot be applied to a specific person’s situation. The good news is, if you have hearing loss, you mayHearing aids can help relieve the stress in trying to hear more clearly. Call Davis Family Hearing for all questions and concerns. not develop dementia at all!

Additionally, some research suggests that getting a cochlear implant either reduces or eliminates the risks of untreated hearing loss, including cognitive decline. This is likely true of hearing aids as well, though research remains limited.

Hearing Loss Solutions at Davis Family Hearing

We realize the increased risk of dementia may alarm patients who already experience hearing loss. The newfound risks associated with hearing loss make it more important than ever to have your hearing assessed and find a solution that works for you. Davis Family Hearing offers both hearing aids and cochlear implants as well as treatment services so you can stay connected to your loved ones and the world at large. Call us at (352) 666-8910 today to schedule your appointment.

Hearing Loss and Dementia is real, and can cause fear and anxiety if not treated. Call Davis Family Hearing today.

 

1 http://www.hearingloss.org/content/basic-facts-about-hearing-loss

2 https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/hearing-loss-older-adults

3 http://www.chicagotribune.com/lifestyles/health/sc-health-0121-hearing-loss-dementia-20150115-story.html

4 https://www.aarp.org/health/brain-health/info-07-2013/hearing-loss-linked-to-dementia.html

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