Hearing Loss and Dementia

hearing loss and dementiaRecently, a study conducted by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine found that there is a link between older adults who suffer hearing loss and those who suffer from dementia.

Researchers concluded while the brain does tend to shrink as we age, shrinkage can occur faster when hearing loss is also a factor. People who suffer from severe hearing loss are actually five times more likely to suffer cognitive impairment than those have normal hearing. Even those with just mild hearing impairment are twice as likely to develop dementia.

Hearing loss is the third most prevalent chronic health condition in older adults, and can be caused by genetics or natural changes to the inner ear.  Constant exposure to loud noises and even smoking can also have a negative effect on your hearing.

The Johns Hopkins study revealed that more research needs to be done regarding the correlation between hearing loss and dementia. Overall, they found that those with impaired hearing lost more brain tissue each year compared to people with normal hearing, as well as more shrinkage in particular regions of the brain. Another study is being planned to see if early action to treat hearing loss can help prevent or delay the onset of dementia.

Reasons to Have Your Hearing Regularly Checked

Your hearing can affect more than just your memory. It’s important to schedule an initial hearing exam if you’re noticing that you are having difficulty hearing. Don’t simply accept it as an inevitable part of the aging process.

Hearing loss is not only associated with dementia, but it is also a factor in several other health problems, such as:

  • Diabetes. Studies have been done that show there is not only a link between hearing loss and dementia, but also a correlation between hearing loss and diabetes. Hearing loss is twice as common in people who have diabetes than in those who don’t, due to poor control over blood sugar levels.  Over time, poor blood sugar control can cause damage to the blood vessels and nerves in the ear.
  • Cardiovascular health. A healthy heart is linked to your ability to hear; abnormalities in the cardiovascular system can be noted earlier because the inner ear is so sensitive to blood flow.
  • Risk of falls. Those with hearing loss are about three times more likely to have a history of falling, according to another study done by Johns Hopkins.
  • Problems sleeping. Hearing loss can affect how well you’re sleeping; studies have found that sleep apnea has been associated even with mild hearing impairment.
  • Depression. Hearing loss can lead to social isolation, which is a large factor in depression among seniors. Having to constantly try to decipher what people are saying can sometimes become too much for seniors to handle, and they no longer seek out social activities. Social isolation not only leads to depression, but it also plays a role in the risk for dementia.

Today’s hearing aids have better sound and are barely noticeable when worn, so don’t put off a hearing test that can improve your quality of life.

For more information about American Senior Communities, please visit www.ascseniorcare.com.

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