Hearing Loss and Dementia- No Hearing Loss is Too Minor

By: Kelly Warf, Au.D.

Dementia, defined as a loss of brain function that can be caused by a variety of disorders affecting the brain. Symptoms include forgetfulness, impaired thinking, and judgment, personality changes, agitation, and loss of emotional control.

A study by Frank Lin, M.D., Ph.D., from John Hopkins University tracked participants with hearing loss for nearly 12 years; those with a mild hearing loss were twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s compared to normal hearing individuals. Moderate hearing loss individuals were at three times the risk while people with a severe hearing loss were at five times the risk of developing dementia.“Brain scans show us that hearing loss may contribute to a faster rate of atrophy in the brain,” Lin says. “Hearing loss also contributes to social isolation. You may not want to be with people as much, and when you are you may not engage in conversation as much. These factors may contribute to dementia.” 1

Those who treat their hearing loss optimize their auditory processing skills with hearing aids; this means they are stimulating memory, information decoding, and alertness. By continually optimizing these skills, this slows down the development of dementia. Not only do hearing aids help you hear better it also takes the cognitive load off your brain.

Treating your hearing loss today can lead to better health in the future. Learn more about your options for treating hearing loss by scheduling an appointment with our Audiologists at 847-685-1000.

1. Lin, Frank R, and Marilyn Albert. “Hearing loss and dementia – who is listening?.” Aging & Mental Health

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