Certain health issues may increase one’s chances of developing dementia, which is estimated to affect one in 30 Americans by 2050. Perhaps chief among those at risk for developing dementia are adults with hearing loss, who are significantly more likely than adults with normal hearing to experience it.
A 2011 study from researchers at Johns Hopkins and the National Institute on Aging also found that the greater the hearing loss, the higher the risk for dementia. Subjects who had experienced severe hearing loss were five times more likely to develop dementia than those who had not. Even adults who suffered mild hearing loss doubled the risk of dementia.
In this study, researchers found that the risk of dementia also began to rise once hearing loss impeded the subject’s ability to communicate — at a noisy restaurant, for example, or in a crowded public place with a large amount of background noise. It should be noted, too, that though hearing loss increased the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, the two were not as strongly linked as hearing loss and dementia. The exact reason for this connection is unknown.
“We do know that untreated hearing loss can compound the difficulties that people with dementia or Alzheimer’s and their families already face,” says Tim Steele, Ph.D., FAAA, president of Associated Audiologists, Inc. “Fortunately, in many cases, the regular use of hearing aids can benefit people with hearing loss, including those with dementia, Alzheimer’s and their caregivers.”
According to Dr. Steele , one of the best combatants those with hearing loss have against the onset of dementia is earlier intervention with their hearing loss. “We have many excellent options,” Dr. Steele adds, “for hearing devices that can help patients with limited cognitive ability and/or dexterity.” At Associated Audiologists, this includes access to cutting-edge technology.
A hearing aid is not a cure for dementia, by any means, but it is one more tool for anyone who suffers hearing loss — one crucial tool that enables them to live a better, fuller life.
Are you or a loved one experiencing hearing loss? Contact Associated Audiologists today to learn how our doctoral-level audiologists can help!