Hearing Loss Can Increase Risk of Dementia by 200-500%

There is no cure for dementia. Treatments are available, but the best way to combat it is with preventative measures that decrease your risk of developing dementia in the first place.

Watch Doctor of Audiology, Brian Field, presenting speaking for Alzheimer Society Southwest Partners' Brain Booster event discussing the correlation between dementia and hearing loss.

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Dementia Modifiable Risk Factors

Hearing loss is the #1 most modifiable risk factor in mid to later life. This means that according to the aggregate study published in the Lancet, treating your hearing loss is the #1 thing you can do to reduce or slow down the onset of dementia.

How Hearing Loss Contributes to Cognitive Load

Hearing loss causes our brains to commit extra resources to hearing and understanding speech. This mean that less cognitive power is left over to process and remember what was said. This process gets even more taxed in a difficult listening environment like at restaurants or parties.

dementia couple loving

Reduce Your Risk of Cognitive Overload

  • Prioritize your hearing health
  • Be aware of changes to your hearing
  • Ask those around you if they are aware of changes to your hearing
  • Have your hearing tested to set a baseline of hearing health
  • Eliminate distracting sounds to allow your brain to focus on one source at a time
  • If you’re speaking to someone, turn off other sound sources (TV, radio, etc.)
  • Use audiologist-recommended hearing aids in social situations
  • Follow your hearing treatment plan as advised by medical professionals
  • Seek medical attention if you believe your hearing is worsening

What Does the Research Show?

Research from around the world shows the potential connection between hearing loss and dementia. A study on the Relationship of Hearing Loss and Dementia found that “elderly individuals with HL have an increased rate of developing dementia and more rapid decline on 3MS-R scores than their non-hearing impaired counterparts. These findings suggest that hearing impairment may be a marker for cognitive dysfunction in adults aged 65 and older.”
The good news is hearing loss is both preventable and treatable, which can reduce the risk, impact, and speed of cognitive decline.

A study on the Relationship Between Hearing Aid Use and Cognitive Function(4) published by The American Geriatrics Society found that the treatment of hearing loss could mitigate cognitive decline in older adults.

The individuals studied experienced a decline in episodic memory before beginning hearing treatment. Although their memory scores continued to decline after beginning to use hearing aids, the rate of decline became far less steep.

The 18-year study concluded that “Hearing aids may have a mitigating effect on trajectories of cognitive decline in later life. Providing hearing aids or other rehabilitative services for hearing impairment much earlier in the course of hearing impairment may stem the worldwide rise of dementia.”

Groundbreaking research conducted by Johns Hopkins Medical Center indicates hearing loss can increase the risk of dementia by 200-500%. That’s a significantly higher risk. The same report from researchers at Johns Hopkins Medical Center and the National Institute on Aging found that the more hearing loss an individual had, the more likely they would develop dementia.

Study leader Frank Lin, M.D., Ph.D., of Johns Hopkins Medical Center says, “A lot of people ignore hearing loss because it’s such a slow and insidious process as we age. Even if people feel as if they are not affected, we’re showing that it may well be a more serious problem.”

Meet Our Doctor of Audiology

Brian Field

Au.D., M.Cl.Sc., BSc
Doctor of Audiology

  • Over 30 years of Audiology training and experience
  • Has helped 1000’s of Londoners, just like you
  • Opened one of the first hearing clinics in Ontario
  • Trained 20+ Hearing Care practitioners
  • Degree in Electronics repair – very skilled at repairing hearing aids

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