The Surprising Connection Between Hearing Loss and Dementia

A senior man smiles as he turns on his hearing aid, a key tool in combating hearing loss and dementia.
There is a connection between hearing loss and dementia that too often goes overlooked.

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

How Hearing and Cognitive Functioning Are Related

There are a number of hypotheses scientists are exploring to explain the connection between hearing loss and dementia:

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

It is extremely important to determine the exact basis for this connection and to see if treating hearing loss can help. The amount of people who could be impacted is astonishing, with up to 37.5 million Americans currently experiencing some level of hearing loss.

We already know that those diagnosed with hearing loss experience a decline in cognitive functioning at a rate of 30 – 40% faster than those with normal hearing. Not only that, but hearing loss increases the risk for other health issues, most notably depression and falls.

The good news is that researchers at Johns Hopkins are currently trying to determine whether treating hearing loss might actually reduce brain aging and prevent dementia. A study of almost 1,000 older adults with hearing loss is underway, and by as early as next year, we will have the information necessary for a path forward.

If a person you love struggles with hearing loss, encourage them to get a checkup and to wear hearing aids if recommended by the doctor. Our caregivers can even provide transportation for that checkup if needed.

In addition, our dementia care specialists are on hand to help individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or any other type of dementia to stay comfortable, safe, and engaged in meaningful and enjoyable activities. We can also assist with more effectively managing a number of the challenging behaviors related to dementia, such as aggression, agitation, wandering, sundowning, and more.

Just connect with us any time at 940-380-0500 in Denton or 972-245-1515 in Dallas for more information about how we can help older adults live healthier lives at home. We offer a free in-home consultation to answer all of your questions and to develop a personalized care plan to best meet your needs. Our team is proud to provide in-home care in Denton, Plano, Frisco, and throughout North Central Texas.