Hearing Loss and Dementia

Two Senior Adults Having Coffee and Conversation

Age-related hearing loss, also referred to as presbycusis, can develop gradually with advancing age. It is prevalent, with over half of individuals in the United States aged 75 and above experiencing some degree of age-related hearing impairment.

While it is commonly understood that hearing can deteriorate with age, it is less widely known that untreated hearing loss can contribute to cognitive decline. Researchers believe that hearing loss contributes to approximately 8% of dementia cases. This suggests that hearing impairment could be linked to around 800,000 of the nearly 10 million new cases of dementia diagnosed annually.

Hearing Loss and Dementia
Studies indicate that addressing hearing loss with hearing aids may help prevent cognitive decline. Hearing impairment can place additional cognitive strain on the brain, requiring extra effort to compensate for missing information. This strain may detrimentally affect other cognitive functions and memory systems.

Another potential connection is that hearing loss speeds up the natural shrinking process of the aging brain. Additionally, hearing loss could result in decreased social interaction, a vital component for maintaining intellectual stimulation. With limited hearing, individuals may withdraw from social activities, reducing brain engagement and overall activity levels.

Consult with your primary care physician regarding how often to be screened and how to address any hearing concerns. Your ears will thank you – and so will your brain!