Hearing loss affects approximately one in three adults ages 65 to 74 and one in two adults ages 75 and up. Because hearing loss and dementia are closely linked, this is concerning for older populations, who are at elevated risk of developing both conditions. We explore more about this link below.
Studies Linking Hearing Loss & Dementia
Two studies from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine have established a close link between hearing loss and dementia.
A 2011 study conducted in collaboration with the National Institute on Aging found that seniors with hearing loss are significantly more likely to develop dementia compared to peers with normal hearing.
Researchers examined data collected by the Baltimore Longitudinal Study on Aging, tracking information from 639 people whose hearing was tested first between 1990 and 1994, then every one to two years after until 2008. At the start of the study, none had dementia, and by the end, 58 had developed the condition.
Results showed that:
- Those with mild hearing loss were twice as likely to develop dementia.
- Those with moderate hearing loss were three times as likely.
- Those with severe hearing loss were five times as likely.
Another study, conducted in 2013, confirmed this link and uncovered the rate cognitive decline develops in those at risk.
In this study, nearly 2,000 volunteers between ages 75 and 84 had their hearing tested over six years. The group with hearing loss experienced a decline in cognitive abilities that was 30-40% faster than the rate of those with normal hearing. This resulted in significant impairment 3.2 years sooner.
According to lead study author Frank Lin, M.D., Ph.D., “Our results show that hearing loss should not be considered an inconsequential part of aging, because it may come with some serious long-term consequences to healthy brain functioning.”
There Is Hope
Fortunately, there is hope for people experiencing hearing loss. Yet another study, published in 2015, found that treating hearing loss can improve thinking and memory.
For this study, 94 people between ages 65 and 84 with profound deafness had their cognitive abilities tested before and after receiving cochlear implants and auditory rehabilitation.
Results showed that 80% of those with the lowest cognitive scores exhibited significant improvement after one year. Your memories of your family picnicking at Riverside Park are precious. To stave off dementia and other forms of cognitive decline, call the hearing experts at Aaron’s Hearing Aid & Audiology Center today!