The link between dementia and untreated hearing loss.
A recent study from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg school of Public Health discovered that older adults living with untreated hearing loss were more likely to suffer from dementia compared to those using hearing aids.
The findings of the study, which were taken from a pool of 2,400 adults aged 60 and above, reflect those found in previous research such as the University of Oxford’s 2021 report which also highlighted the link between hearing loss and increased chances of dementia. The results of the study showed that the prevalence of dementia was 61% higher in participants with moderate/severe hearing loss compared to those with normal hearing. The use of hearing aids among the participants led to a 32% lower prevalence of dementia in those with severe or moderate hearing loss.
While both the Johns Hopkins study and the University of Oxford study were unable to identify a clear reason for the link between severe hearing loss and dementia, it has been suggested that communicative impairments such as hearing loss and speech problems could lead to social isolation and thereby an increased likelihood of developing dementia. A 2020 study by National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine reported that many adults aged 50 and over were 50% more likely to suffer from dementia if they were experiencing social isolation.
Identifying hearing loss
Hearing loss is a gradual process that happens over time and many people only act on it once the issue is noticeable. Some signs that you might be suffering from hearing loss include:
• Difficulty keeping up with conversations and frequently asking people to repeat themselves.
• Increased volume when watching television or listening to music.
• Finding it increasingly difficult to understand speech, especially in noisy environments.
• Feelings of stress or tiredness due to having to concentrate whilst listening.
If you have noticed any changes to your hearing, we would recommend having your hearing checked by a qualified audiologist. Getting your hearing tested regularly (every two years) means that hearing loss can be identified and addressed early on, minimising its impact on your quality of life.
At the Hearing Care Centre, we offer free, comprehensive hearing tests which include a full health check of your ears, to ensure that you are able to hear at your best. Book your free hearing test with one of our experienced audiologists today by calling 01473 230 330.