Are you finding the need to turn the television up louder for a senior you love? Speaking more loudly? Repeating things the senior loved one missed hearing the first time? Hearing loss in seniors is not uncommon. But recent scientific studies are pointing to a startling connection between hearing loss and a heightened risk for dementia. And to take it a step further, there may also be a link between treating hearing loss and reducing dementia risk.
How Hearing and Cognitive Functioning Are Linked
There are a number of hypotheses scientists are exploring to explain the link between hearing loss and dementia:
- The brain’s thinking and memory systems are affected when it has to focus harder to strain to hear and also to fill in the gaps when communication is missed.
- An older brain shrinks more rapidly due to hearing loss.
- Decreased social interaction results in less mental stimulation and a less active and engaged brain.
It’s very important to pinpoint the exact reason for this connection and to see if treating hearing loss can help. The total number of people who could be impacted is astounding, with up to 37.5 million Americans currently experiencing some level of hearing loss.
We already know that those diagnosed with hearing loss have a decline in cognitive functioning at a rate of 30 – 40% faster than those with normal hearing. Not just that, but hearing loss escalates the risk for additional health problems, such as depression and falls.
The good news is that researchers at Johns Hopkins are currently trying to determine if treating hearing loss might actually reduce brain aging and prevent dementia. A study of almost 1,000 people diagnosed with hearing loss is ongoing, and by as early as next year, we will have the information required for a path forward.
If a senior you love has difficulties with hearing loss, encourage them to get a checkup and to wear hearing aids if recommended by the doctor. Our caregivers can even provide transportation for that checkup if needed.
In addition, our dementia care specialists are readily available to help individuals with Alzheimer’s or any other form of dementia to stay safe, comfortable, and involved with enjoyable and meaningful activities. We can also assist with more effectively managing some of the challenging behaviors related to dementia, such as aggression, agitation, wandering, sundowning, and much more.
Just contact Home Sweet Home In-Home Care, a trusted provider of home care in Dowagiac and the surrounding areas, any time at (866) 229-2505 for more information about how we can help older adults live healthier lives at home. We offer a complimentary in-home consultation to answer all of your questions and to develop a personalized plan of care to best meet your needs.