Hearing Loss-Dementia Connection
According to an article published by John Hopkins, "Hearing loss doesn’t just mean an older adult needs to turn up the TV. It’s been linked to a range of health problems, including dementia.
The latest aging research not only shows the two are connected, it’s also leading scientists to believe that hearing loss may actually be a cause of dementia.
This emerging area of research has huge implications, says Frank Lin, MD, PhD ’08, director of the Cochlear Center for Hearing and Public Health at the Bloomberg School. Some 37.5 million Americans have trouble hearing, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.
A key question researchers have: Could hearing aids reduce the risk of a person developing dementia?
Lin explains the connection between the two conditions and where the science is headed.
Hearing loss and the brain
If you have hearing loss, you have a greater chance of developing dementia, according to a 2020 Lancet commission report that lists hearing loss as one of the top risk factors for dementia.
Brain strain and social isolation
Hearing loss can make the brain work harder, forcing it to strain to hear and fill in the gaps. That comes at the expense of other thinking and memory systems. Another possibility: Hearing loss causes the aging brain to shrink more quickly.
Quantifying hearing loss’s impact
Hearing loss is estimated to account for 8% of dementia cases. This means that hearing loss may be responsible for 800,000 of the nearly 10 million new cases of dementia diagnosed each year."
For the full article, click here.
Hearing loss can cause a person to feel withdrawn, depressed, confused, unresponsive, or uncooperative because they can't hear well. They may be unable to follow a conversation, hear or talk on the phone, hear the doorbell or alarms go off - so their safety is an issue as well. They are at a greater risk of falling too. If you suspect your loved one is struggling with symptoms of dementia, it may be that they are suffering from hearing loss... or their hearing aids simply need cleaning, are out of adjustment, or need the battery replaced. Schedule an appointment with their doctor and/or an audiologist to follow-up to discuss your concerns.
Click this link for some great tips for communicating with someone with hearing loss.
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