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The Link Between Hearing Loss and Dementia

The Link Between Hearing Loss and Dementia

A new study by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has confirmed what prior studies have shown: that hearing loss is likely a contributing factor to dementia, and that treatment may lower the risk of cognitive decline.

This latest study strengthens the argument for early intervention and treatment, and “builds support for public health action to improve hearing care access”, according to the study’s lead author Alison Huang, PhD. MPH.

In a nationally representative sample of more than 2,400 older adults, the researchers found that those with more severe hearing loss were more likely to have dementia. However, the occurrence of dementia was lower among those who treated their hearing loss with hearing aids than those who left their hearing loss untreated.

The study results were published in January in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Some of the findings of this, and previous studies, include:

  • Dementia in study participants with moderate to severe hearing loss was 61% higher than those with normal hearing
  • Study participants with moderate to severe hearing loss who used hearing aids experienced 32% less prevalence of dementia than their counterparts who didn’t
  • Of the 12 modifiable risk factors (things we can control) for preventing or delaying dementia, treating hearing loss is the single most effective; more effective than quitting alcohol and smoking, avoiding brain injuries, being physically active, continuing education and treating conditions like diabetes, hypertension, obesity and depression!

If you or someone you love has a family history of dementia, or is exhibiting signs of early cognitive decline, be sure to have a hearing test done and speak with a hearing healthcare professional, as well as the Alzheimer’s Society, who is your first link to care partners.  Treating hearing loss can result in neurological changes that can slow and even reverse cognitive decline, and can help in prevention or delay of the onset of dementia.

If you have questions, please contact one of our audiologists or specialists at Beck Hearing.  The assessment and consultation is always free for adults, and the results are explained thoroughly.  We recommend an annual hearing test for those over 50 so that we have a baseline result, and can share any changes with your doctor over time.


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