Hearing Loss and Dementia May Be Connected

Hearing loss is the third most common health problem in the U.S. among older Americans. That’s a problem, because the list of consequences related to untreated hearing loss keeps growing, and includes fatigue, falls, anxiety, social isolation, depression, hospitalization and an increased risk of cognitive decline and dementia.

Yes, scientists are finding more and more evidence that trouble with hearing makes you more likely to go on to have dementia, a condition marked by memory loss and trouble with thinking, problem-solving, and other mental tasks. Hearing loss may be associated with cognitive decline because when there is less auditory input, auditory centers in the brain begin to degenerate, and the brain struggles to compensate. This means that the brain needs to use more resources to process auditory information, leaving less available to use for other functions, such as learning and memory.

Studies have shown that mild hearing loss is associated with a two-fold greater risk for dementia, while severe hearing loss is associated with five times greater risk over 10 years. Several longitudinal studies have found that the rate of cognitive decline is accelerated in dementia patients with hearing loss. Participants with hearing loss experienced rates of cognitive decline that were 30-50% faster than those with normal hearing.

Researchers don’t know for sure how the two conditions are connected, and this doesn’t mean that people with hearing loss (about two-thirds of adults over 70) are guaranteed to have dementia – simply that the odds are higher. In any case, you’ll want to ensure that you continue to hear the best you can. What are your options?

Personal Sound Amplification Products (PSAP’s)

While it can be challenging to see the differences in the actual devices themselves, your ears will hear the difference! PSAP’s do not address the core hearing loss issues. They are also not professionally programmed or fit. PSAP’s are designed to amplify all sounds.

Hearing Aids

Hearing louder is not hearing better. Hearing aids are a Class 1 medical device. They are programmed and fit after a professional evaluation and consultation based on your personal and unique hearing needs. Hearing aids are designed to help you hear and understand the best you can.

Because most changes in hearing occur gradually over time, speech or sounds that fall outside your range of hearing simply cease to exist to you. If you haven’t had your hearing checked in the last three years, how would you know if any speech or sounds fall outside your current range of hearing?

If you haven’t had your hearing tested lately, or if you’re noticing a decline in your ability to hear well or understand clearly what is being said, call Hearing Services of Delaware at 302-376-3500 for your hearing consultation and listening demonstration. For over 25 years, the audiology staff at Hearing Services of Delaware has been helping people hear better by providing the highest quality hearing health care services. Hearing Services of Delaware is recognized as a premier hearing health care practice and is the preferred referral for over 40 community physicians. We’re not just about hearing aids – we’re about hearing health care!

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