Hearing Loss & Dementia

The last decade has brought more and more attention to hearing loss as a risk factor for dementia progression.  Those at risk of dementia (either microvascular, Alzheimer-type, or other) can have more rapid advancement of their cognitive decline when hearing loss goes untreated.

A good (but older) 2013 AARP article sums this up well.  Thousands of older adults with early cognitive decline have been studied (and the studies continue of course!).  What we know is that brain pathways, learning centers, and memory centers all are “use it or lose it” in lay terms.  When the brain’s auditory centers are not getting stimulated (whether because of living in isolation or because hearing loss is creating an artificial isolation), they physically shrink as connection pathways degeneration.

Unfortunately, unethical hearing aid dispenser salesmen capitalize on this and may tell you that you will “get Alzheimer’s without a hearing aid.”  This is not true of course.  But it is true that an existing dementia condition will worsen faster when there is sensory deprivation (whether from poor hearing or vision).

Hearing loss also promotes isolation and eventually symptoms that look a lot like depression due to the lack of enjoyable social interactions.  Social interactions are a prime way we keep our brain sharp.

Do some more reading here then give us a call to see how we can help.