“I can hear just fine.” “It’s not that bad, I don’t need help.” “I’m too young.” “It’s not my hearing, it’s that people mumble.”
These are just a few things people say when they are trying to avoid getting their hearing tested, or when they are dodging the “hearing aid talk.”
Questioning hearing loss and being resistant to the idea of hearing aids is normal, but before you write hearing loss off as “not that bad,” learn more about the association between hearing loss and dementia.
A longitudinal research study conducted by Frank Lin, M.D., Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University found that individuals with normal hearing were less susceptible to dementia, while those with mild, moderate, and severe untreated hearing loss were two, three, and five times more likely to acquire dementia.
The study looked at 639 individuals over a 12-18 year time period. None of the participants were diagnosed with dementia prior to participating in the study. The participants hearing ranged from normal to severe hearing loss. They discovered that the more severe the baseline hearing, the higher the risk for dementia.
Another study conducted by Dr. Lin in 2013 found that adults, 75 years and older, with hearing loss experience a 30-40% faster decline in cognitive abilities than their peers with normal hearing.
Although the exact link between untreated hearing loss and dementia is unknown, there are many theories. One of those theories being that if the brain struggles to cope with degraded sounds it reallocates its resources and increases the individuals cognitive load, which decreases overall cognitive function. Hearing loss also accelerates degradation in the cerebrum, which plays an important role in memory. Another theory incorporates environmental factors. It is thought that hearing loss leads to social isolation, which can cause stress and depression, and therefore can exacerbate cognitive decline.
Treating hearing loss with hearing aids and providing consistent auditory stimulation can prevent the advancement of dementia. Consistently wearing hearing aids can also improve cognitive function in individuals who have begun experiencing cognitive decline.
Call today to schedule your hearing test and complementary hearing aid consultation. We would love to be a part of your hearing health care.