Hearing Loss and Dementia Are Connected: What You Can Do to Prevent Both
According to Stats Canada, 78% of Canadians aged 60-79 have hearing loss and 40% of Canadians aged 40-59 have hearing loss. Research shows that most people with hearing loss don’t think it is a serious health concern and simply ignore it. Health hearing is critical for your cognitive health, mental health, and keeping you connected with your friends and loved ones.
If you or a loved one has noticed a decline in hearing, it's important to be proactive and get your hearing tested. We now offer free assessments so you can find your baseline results and monitor the health of your hearing.
How does Hearing Loss Affect our Cognitive Function?
“Hearing loss is an important health concern which is often unrecognized and undertreated.” – The Gerentologist
Hearing loss effects the signals that our ears send to our brain and makes it difficult to for our brains to interpret and understand the sounds of life. We are still learning about this connection and its effects and the research is showing us more with each new study. Hearing loss effects our cognitive function in three main ways:
- It makes sounds harder to understand causing our brains divert more resources to understanding (this is called cognitive load)
- Because we are working harder to understand sounds it effects our ability to remember what was said (due to increased cognitive load)
- Reduced signals from the ears to the brain causes the brain to shrink
What does the research say?
Every year more research comes out showing how important hearing health is to overall health and wellness. Its clear that hearing loss should be treated seriously and early. Our practice is evidence based and research driven but don’t take our word for it:
- Even mild levels of hearing loss increase the long-term risk of cognitive decline and dementia in individuals who are cognitively intact but hearing impaired at baseline. – The Lancet
- Hearing loss is independently associated with lower scores on tests of memory and executive function. – Neuropsychology Journal
- Hearing loss has long been considered a normal, and thus acceptable, part of aging. It is common: Estimates suggest that it affects two out of three adults age 70 and older. It is also rarely treated. In the U.S., only about 14 percent of adults who have hearing loss wear hearing aids. An emerging body of research, however, suggests that diminished hearing may be a significant risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia — and that the association between hearing loss and cognitive decline potentially begins at very low levels of impairment. -The New York Times
- There is now a significant body of research that strongly supports the importance of treatment for adults with hearing loss. Intervention not only reduces the social isolation, depression, and anxiety that untreated hearing loss can cause, but can also play an important role in minimizing cognitive decline and delaying the onset of dementia. – The Hearing Review
- Age-related peripheral hearing impairment (HI) is associated with increased risk of developing dementia in older adults. – Oxford University Press
If you or a loved one has noticed a decline in hearing, it’s important to be proactive and get your hearing tested. We now offer free assessments so you can find your baseline results and monitor the health of your hearing.