Are you finding the need to turn the television up louder for a senior you love? Chatting more loudly? Repeating conversations your senior loved one missed hearing the first time? Hearing loss in older adults is not uncommon. But fresh research is pointing to a startling connection between hearing loss and an elevated risk for dementia.
How Hearing and Cognitive Functioning Are Related
There are several hypotheses that researchers are investigating to explain the link between hearing loss and dementia:
- Reduced social interaction results in less mental stimulation and a less active and engaged brain.
- An older brain shrinks more rapidly as the result of hearing loss.
- The brain’s thinking and memory systems are affected when it has to focus harder to strain to hear and also to fill in the gaps when communication is missed.
It’s very important to determine the exact reason for this connection and to discover if treating hearing loss can help. The number of individuals who could be impacted is astonishing, with up to 37.5 million Americans currently having some level of hearing loss.
We already know that those diagnosed with hearing loss have a decline in cognitive functioning at a rate of 30 – 40% faster compared to those with normal hearing. Not only this, but hearing loss escalates the risk for additional health issues, for example, depression and falls.
The good news is that medical researchers at Johns Hopkins are presently working to determine whether treating hearing loss could actually minimize brain aging and prevent dementia. A study of almost 1,000 seniors with hearing loss is ongoing, and by as early as the coming year, we’ll have the information needed for a path forward.
If someone you love has difficulties with hearing loss, encourage them to get a checkup and to wear hearing aids if recommended by the doctor. Our care providers can even provide transportation for that checkup if needed.
Additionally, our dementia care specialists are readily available to help those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or any other form of dementia to stay safe, comfortable, and involved with enjoyable and meaningful activities. We can also help with more effectively managing a number of the challenging behaviors connected with dementia, in particular aggression, agitation, wandering, sundowning, and more.
Just call us any time at 727-940-3414 for additional details on 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 plan of care to best meet your needs.