It is common to perceive hearing loss as something that simply and naturally happens as we grow older. However, this perception is a common excuse that keeps many from seeking treatment even when the treatment is guaranteed to improve their quality of life. Hearing loss is often a progressive condition that can be difficult to pinpoint, too. Someone can struggle for years with hearing loss before noticing they need help.
Recent studies have discovered that losing your hearing is more than just an inconvenient part of aging. When ignored, it can have a serious impact on brain health and may increase the risk of declining cognitive function or dementia. How can getting hearing treatment benefit those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease?
Linking Hearing Loss with Alzheimer’s Disease
In the United States, there are over 5.7 million people with Alzheimer’s or some form of dementia. In a 2011 study, researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine found a link between the development of Alzheimer’s and untreated hearing loss. A second 2013 study published in JAMA Internal Medicine shows older people with hearing problems can have up to a 40 percent decrease in cognitive function compared to those with healthy hearing.
It’s unclear why hearing loss increases the risk of dementia but current theories involve the additional brain stress that comes with fighting to hear. Someone struggling to hear conversations, for example, will use more mental energy. Theories imply that the brain pulls this energy from atypical sources like memory. This theory is supported by the fact that the inability to communicate effectively is a primary symptom of Alzheimer’s that may be due to age-related hearing loss.
Living with Both Hearing Loss and Alzheimer’s Disease
Individuals with Alzheimer’s already have difficulty interacting with the world around them. Hearing loss is an additional struggle that many elderly people face — making communication nearly impossible for those struggling with both conditions. Providing hearing loss treatment to those suffering from Alzheimer’s may be all it takes for them to once again interact with the people around them.
For a person with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, hearing treatment like hearing aids may slow down the progress of the disease, as well as improve quality of life.
We provide next-generation hearing technology that makes wearing hearing assisted devices painless, affordable, and practically invisible. No matter what your age, if you suffer from hearing loss, it is impacting your health. Give us a call today to make an appointment for a free hearing evaluation and begin your journey to better hearing.
Lin FR, Yaffe K, Xia J, et al. Hearing Loss and Cognitive Decline in Older Adults. JAMA Intern Med. 2013;173(4):293–299. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.1868