Have you been speaking louder to a senior you care about? For a senior in your life, are you finding that you need to crank up the TV's volume? If a senior loved one didn't hear you the first time, are you repeating yourself? It's common for elderly people to experience hearing loss. However, recent research indicates a shocking association between hearing loss and an increased risk for dementia, necessitating an investigation into whether treating hearing loss could potentially lower that risk.

How Hearing Affects Cognitive Performance

Researchers are looking into the following theories to explain the link between dementia and hearing loss:

  • A brain that is less active and engaged experiences less intellectual stimulation.

  • When the brain needs to work harder to strain to hear and to fill in the gaps when communication is lost, the thinking and memory systems are impaired.

  • Hearing loss causes the brain to shrink more quickly as we age.

We already understand that individuals with hearing loss experience a 30 to 40% faster reduction in cognitive performance than those with normal hearing. Additionally, hearing loss raises the risk of other health problems like depression and falls.

On the plus side, Johns Hopkins scientists are now trying to figure out whether treating hearing loss might genuinely slow brain aging and stave off dementia. We're doing a study of nearly 1,000 older people with hearing loss, and by the start of next year, we should have all the data we need to move forward.

Encourage a senior you care about who is experiencing hearing loss to have a checkup and, if the doctor so advises, to wear hearing aids. If necessary, our caregivers can even accompany you to that checkup.

Additionally, our dementia care professionals can assist persons who have Alzheimer's or another kind of dementia in maintaining their comfort, safety, and participation in worthwhile activities. We can also assist in better managing some of the difficult behaviors associated with dementia, including hostility, agitation, wandering, sundowning, and other behaviors.

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