Hearing Loss and Dementia
What is Dementia?
Some degree of cognitive decline (loss of thinking and memory abilities) can be normal as we age. When a cognitive impairment becomes severe enough to interfere with daily activities, a person is considered to have dementia.
What Does Hearing Loss Have to Do With Dementia?
The link between hearing loss and dementia is the subject of many studies all around the world.
Results show that age-related hearing loss can contribute to cognitive decline, leading to cognitive impairment, and dementia.
Some results of studies show that:
- Over 60% of adults living with dementia will also have a hearing impairment
- People who develop hearing problems during mid-life (aged 40–65) have an increased risk of developing dementia
- People with mild hearing loss are twice as likely to develop dementia as people without hearing loss, and the risk increases five fold for people with severe hearing loss
What Can We Do?
We need to keep our hearing at an optimal level. Wearing hearing aids to maintain our level of hearing is an important tool to reduce the risk of dementia as we get older.
The use of hearing aids has been shown to reduce the risk of dementia to the level of a person with normal hearing.
We know that optimal cognitive performance can depend on hearing well. For example, remembering information in noise is more difficult than in quiet. If a person with a hearing loss has to concentrate more to hear information, then they may have more trouble remembering it than someone with normal hearing would have in the same situation.
A large scale study found that participants who used hearing aids were at significantly lower risk of developing all cause dementia, compared to those not using hearing aids.
It is becoming clear that looking after your hearing is very important in maintaining good cognitive skills, social interaction, increased independence, and 'Healthy Ageing'.
Hearing aid use was also associated with fewer memory problems and thinking problems independent of dementia.
If you think your hearing is deteriorating, book an appointment with your GP and they will refer you to your local audiology department, if necessary.
For more information regarding Dementia, the link between hearing loss and dementia, or support, please click the links below:
The link between hearing loss and dementia is not fully explained, but it does not mean that someone with hearing loss will go on to develop dementia – just that their risk is higher.