There are three main theories for how hearing loss may contribute to cognitive decline and dementia.
Cognitive Load – Because the brain is constantly coping with degraded sounds because its resources are dedicated to processing those sounds, this impairs its other processes such as memory and thinking.
Brain Atrophy – Hearing impairment may directly contribute to accelerated rates of atrophy in parts of the brain that process sound. Because parts of the brain don’t work in isolation, hearing loss may play a role in memory and sensory integration. Studies show a relation between the early stages of mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease.
Social Isolation – People who have a hard time hearing often withdraw because it’s so difficult to communicate with others. Numerous studies have found that a loss of engagement and loneliness are risk factors for cognitive decline.
Don’t Be a Bad Statistic
If you have hearing loss, it makes sense to get it treated. The connection between hearing loss and dementia, raises the possibility that treating hearing loss more aggressively could help stave off cognitive decline and dementia.
Unfortunately, even though The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders estimates that nearly 25 percent of those age 65 through 74 and 50 percent of those 75 and older have disabling hearing loss, few people seek the help they need.
Here are the numbers:
- An estimated 26 million Americans age 20 to 69 have high-frequency hearing loss due to noise exposure.
- Although many adults 70 and older with hearing loss who could benefit from hearing aids, fewer than one in three (30 percent) use them.
- Only 16 percent of adults age 20 to 69 who could benefit from hearing aids use them.
If you are concerned you may have hearing loss, it is important that you have your hearing checked as soon as possible. Dr. Joe Griffith, AuD, CCC-A is a certified audiologist who makes “house calls”. Call him at (504) 738-4557 or visit accessiblehearing.com to schedule your hearing test today. You are just a phone call away from the hearing help you need and deserve.