There’s nothing more important than protecting your precious memories with your loved ones, like family trips to the Natural History Museum of Utah. Unfortunately, for those with hearing loss, there is an increased risk of developing dementia. We explore this link below and discuss how treating your hearing loss has been shown to help prevent cognitive decline.

Studies Linking Hearing Loss & DementiaOlder couple sit on a bench together.

Much research from Johns Hopkins has established a strong link between hearing loss and dementia.

A 2011 study that was conducted in collaboration with the National Institute of Aging examined data from over 600 people and determined:

  • Those with mild hearing loss were twice as likely to develop dementia.
  • Those with moderate hearing loss were three times as likely.
  • Those with severe hearing loss were five times as likely.

A 2013 study worked with nearly 2,000 volunteers over six years. Researchers found that those with hearing loss experienced significant cognitive decline 30-40% faster than their peers with normal hearing, resulting in impairment 3.2 years sooner.

Why the Link?

Experts have a few theories as to why this link exists.

One theory is related to changes in brain function. The part of your brain responsible for helping you hear recruits other parts of the brain to assist when hearing is poor, which could lead to structural changes that result in cognitive decline such as Alzheimer’s.

Another theory has to do with cognitive load. If you have hearing loss, then during conversations you have to work extra hard to keep up. This is a taxing experience and could lead to physical and mental exhaustion, leaving less energy for things like memory.

Social isolation is a well-known risk factor for developing dementia, and it is also extremely common for those with hearing loss.

Finally, some researchers hypothesize that there is a common cause underlying both hearing loss and cognitive decline. Nobody is yet sure what this common cause may be.

There Is Hope

Fortunately, there is hope for people with hearing loss. A study out of Paris found that among patients who treated their hearing loss with cochlear implants, 80% experienced significant cognitive improvement after one year.

For more information about the link between hearing loss and dementia or to talk to an expert about hearing loss treatment options, call Bountiful Hearing Center today.