Are Hearing Loss and Dementia Connected?

Man with Hearing Loss

Believe it or not, but over the past few years there has been a growing body of evidence that proves a definite link between hearing loss and dementia/loss of cognition. It makes sense when you think about it because the majority of people over the age of 70 suffer from dementia of some description, and three-fourths of all over-70s have hearing loss.

And thinking further, when you have hearing loss, it means you could be more likely to develop dementia. The evidence, as established by years of research, points to double the risk. As such, it make sense that anyone worried about losing their hearing also needs to bear in mind that dementia could be on its way, too.

In this guide, we’re going to explore some of the symptoms of dementia and hearing loss, and explain why this unfortunate crossover might occur. Also, we’ll leave you with some advice on what you can do to protect yourself.

Common symptoms of dementia

Dementia can present itself with all kinds of symptoms, depending on its type and severity. Sufferers often have memory loss and can be confused when remembering what they were saying. They can have difficulty with thinking and decision making and there is often a decline in skills they need for everyday living - everything from cooking a meal to basic personal hygiene. Mixing up words, or repeating what’s already been said is another common symptom.

Common symptoms of hearing loss

Hearing loss also presents in a multitude of different ways. You might have difficulty hearing other people with clarity and could even misunderstand what they actually say. This is especially common in group situations. Do you find yourself asking people to repeat themselves or speak a little slower? Or have you noticed people comment on the volume for music or TV being higher than what would be called normal? If so, you might be getting hearing loss.

The connections

People with dementia can have difficulty communicating with others, just like people with hearing loss. It makes sense to imagine that one could exacerbate the other. Research suggests that difficulty in communication is because those suffering hearing loss have difficulty with processing audio information. Studies also suggest that the strain of decoding that information over many years eventually overwhelms the brains of people who have hearing loss, which in turn causes cognitive fatigue, increasing social isolation and cognitive decline.

What can you do?

Given the link between hearing loss and dementia, and the condition you can end up in without addressing your hearing loss, it is vital to take good care of your ear health. Regular checks by your audiologist can help you reduce the impact and progression of your hearing loss, which in turn might be the key to staving off dementia or cognitive decline. Regular tests can track your hearing as you get older and, if necessary, ensure you have the right hearing aid for your needs.


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