Have you ever wondered if there is a link between hearing loss and dementia? If so, you are not the only one to wonder about possible connections. One study published in 2011 detailed an experiment conducted by researchers from several institutions, including the John Hopkins School of Medicine. The researchers followed 639 individuals between the ages of 36 and 90. None had any signs of dementia at the start of the study, and each varied in terms of degree of hearing loss. The study began with a series of tests between 1990 and 1994, and were monitored until May 2008. In particular, researchers were looking for any development of Alzheimer’s and dementia in correlation with hearing loss.
At the end of the study, researchers found that adults who had greater hearing loss at the beginning of the study were more likely to have developed dementia or Alzheimer’s by the end of the study. This was particularly true for those over the age of 60. You can read more about this study here. Another study, completely independent from the Johns Hopkins study, completed in 2013, had similar results.
What is the real connection between hearing loss and dementia? There is no known reason, though the connection seems real and quantifiable. The suggestions for the link range from “cognitive overload” (the brain works too hard to process sounds and simply wears itself out) to the possibility of hearing loss being an indicator of something larger rather than the cause of it. Another suggestion is that hearing loss can lead to at least some amount of social isolation, which could play its own role in the development of dementia.
Current technology can address, and possibly prevent, hearing loss. If you believe you are at risk of hearing loss, please get your hearing tested on a regular basis. If you have any questions or would like to set up a screening, please contact us and we will help you out in any way we can.