Why Are People With Hearing Loss More Prone To Dementia?

man hand and ear

Have you recently noticed a change in your hearing? Common signs of changes to your hearing include turning up the volume on the TV so that it is louder than normal or challenges hearing people in environments with background noise. If you notice a change like this, then you should consult with an audiologist.

It is important to get treatment as quickly as possible because research shows that those experiencing hearing loss may be more prone to developing conditions such as dementia. This article explains why there might be a link between hearing loss and dementia. 

Is dementia more likely if you have hearing loss?  

Research suggests that dementia may be 36% more likely for anyone experiencing hearing loss that exceeds 25dB. Individuals who experience moderate or severe hearing loss may also be five times more likely to develop dementia.  

Interestingly, these studies reveal that a connection here is more likely to be apparent in men than women. The connection was found in research investigating hearing loss in older adults over the age of 60. Men with hearing loss were 69% more likely to develop dementia than those with no hearing loss. 

It’s also worth noting that the chance of developing dementia is positively correlated with the level of hearing loss. Those with severe hearing loss are five times more likely to develop hearing loss compared to those with no changes to their hearing at all. 

Why is dementia more likely? 

Research suggests that dementia is more likely because hearing loss causes your brain to change. If the hearing section of the brain is inactive, it can result in significant changes to the structure of the brain. Studies have also revealed that the brains of people with hearing loss may actually shrink over time. 
 
 As well as this, people are more likely to experience brain overload. This occurs because the brain is constantly focused on trying to hear and understand what people are saying to them. If you are constantly straining to hear, this depletes your mental energy level and absorbs all the brain power needed for other key functions. This includes actions such as remembering, acting, and thinking. 

There is a third reason why dementia is more likely if you are experiencing hearing loss. The reason we’re talking about is social interaction. According to the National Council on Aging, people with untreated hearing loss are more likely to experience loneliness and social interaction. Humans need regular social interaction to remain healthy. Without this, their brain is not being provided with the key levels of stimulation it needs. When you experience hearing loss it becomes more difficult to engage people and interact easily. You are constantly finding it a challenge to hear a conversation which can also increase the levels of social isolation. This is why it’s important to ensure that you are getting treatment for hearing loss as soon as you notice a change. 

Are there ways to reduce the chances of dementia when you have hearing loss?

If you are experiencing hearing loss, there are ways that you can reduce the chances of developing dementia. One of the key strategies is to make sure that you do get treatment for your hearing loss. Specifically, you should speak to an audiologist about the possibility of hearing aids. Hearing aids are beneficial because they will allow you to hear more clearly and can improve your overall hearing.

Since you can hear more clearly, your brain won’t constantly fight to listen carefully to what people are saying. Due to this, the hearing section of your brain will continue to remain active well into your twilight years. You also won’t have to worry about missing out on social interactions. With hearing aids, you can interact and talk to people without any issues at all. You won’t have to worry about missing key parts of the conversation. 
 
There are hearing aids available for every type and level of hearing loss. Regardless of how your hearing has changed, you can still get the support you need and ensure that you reduce your chances of developing a condition such as dementia. 

We hope this helps you understand some of the key reasons why people who experience hearing loss may be more likely to develop dementia. If you want to learn more about this potential connection, you should contact Peninsula Hearing at Poulsbo: 360-697-3061, Port Townsend: 360-379-5458.