Dementia and Hearing Loss: The Suspected Link and How Treatment Can Help

happy senior man with hearing aid
The link between dementia and hearing loss is being explored by researchers, along with how treatment can help.

Are you finding the need to turn the TV up louder for a senior you love? Talking more loudly? Repeating things the senior missed hearing the first time? Hearing loss in seniors is not uncommon. But fresh studies are pointing to a startling link between hearing loss and dementia, with an elevated risk for the disease among those who have hearing difficulties.

How Hearing and Cognitive Functioning Are Related

There are several hypotheses researchers are exploring to explain the connection between hearing loss and dementia:

  1. Reduced social interaction leads to less mental stimulation and a less active and engaged brain.
  2. 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.
  3. An older brain shrinks more rapidly due to hearing loss.

It is vitally important to determine the precise basis for this connection and to discover if treating hearing loss can help. The number of individuals who could be impacted is astounding, with up to 60% of older adults in Canada currently experiencing some degree 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 than those with normal hearing. Not just that, but hearing loss increases the risk for additional health problems, such as depression and falls.

The good news is that researchers at Johns Hopkins are currently attempting to determine whether treating hearing loss could actually minimize brain aging and prevent dementia. A study of almost 1,000 older adults with hearing loss is underway, and by as soon as next year, we will have the information required 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 physician. Our caregivers can even provide transportation for that checkup if needed.

In addition, our dementia care specialists are available to assist those with Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia to stay comfortable, safe, and involved with meaningful and enjoyable activities. We can also assist with more effectively managing a number of the challenging behaviors connected with dementia, such as aggression, agitation, wandering, sundowning, and more.

Just call us any time at 250.590.8098 for more information about how Serenity Home Care, the leading provider of senior care in Saanich and the surrounding areas, can help older adults live healthier lives at home. We offer a complimentary in-home consultation to answer all of your questions and to develop a personalized care plan to best meet your needs.