Is There a Connection Between Hearing Loss and Dementia?

a happy senior man with a hearing aid looks at his caregiver
With a possible link between hearing loss and dementia, can hearing aids help reduce the risk?

Are you finding the need to turn the TV up louder for an older adult you love? Speaking more loudly? Repeating topics your senior loved one missed hearing the first time? Hearing loss in older adults isn’t uncommon. But recent scientific studies are pointing to a startling link between hearing loss and dementia risk. 

How Hearing and Cognitive Functioning Are Related

There are several hypotheses scientists are investigating to explain the connection between hearing loss and dementia:

  1. An older brain shrinks more rapidly due to hearing loss.
  2. The brain’s thinking and memory systems are impacted when it has to focus harder to strain to hear and to fill in the gaps when communication is missed.
  3. Less social interaction leads to less mental stimulation and a less active and engaged brain.

It is extremely important to pinpoint the precise cause of this connection and to determine if treating hearing loss can help. The number of individuals who could be impacted is astounding, with as many as 37.5 million Americans currently having some degree of hearing loss. 

We already know that seniors with hearing loss have a decline in cognitive functioning at a rate of 30 – 40% faster compared to those with normal hearing. Not only that, but hearing loss escalates the risk for additional health issues, such as depression and falls.

The good news is that medical researchers at Johns Hopkins are presently trying to determine if treating hearing loss could actually minimize brain aging and prevent dementia. A study of almost 1,000 older adults with hearing loss is ongoing, and by as early as next year, we’ll have the information necessary for a path forward. 

If someone you love struggles with hearing loss, encourage them to get a checkup and to wear hearing aids if recommended by the physician or to utilize a pocket talker for 1-1 communication. Our caregivers can provide transportation for that checkup if needed. 

In addition, our care management services  help families assisting a loved one with  dementia keep their loved one safe, comfortable, and engaged in enjoyable and meaningful activities. Our caregivers can also help with more effectively managing some of the challenging behaviors related to dementia, in particular aggression, agitation, wandering, sundowning, and more.

Just reach out to us any time at 213-383-2273 for more information on how we can help seniors live healthier lives at home. We offer a free  consultation to answer all of your questions and to develop a personalized plan of care to best meet your needs with help at home in Los Angeles and the nearby areas. Please visit our service area page to see all of the communities we serve.