Research published by Johns Hopkins University, the medical journal Lancet and others confirms what many audiologists and physicians know: there is an irrefutable link between hearing loss and cognitive decline. Initial problems such as memory loss and an inability to concentrate can worsen over time. Left untreated, this may eventually lead to dementia and other forms of severe cognitive impairment.
Several recent examples link hearing loss, dementia and cognitive decline together in older adults. In a 2018 study from Johns Hopkins, a greater risk of dementia topped the list of co-morbidities of subjects with moderate hearing loss. These individuals had a 52% greater risk of dementia, in addition to a higher risk of depression and greater risk of falls. In another study published back in 2013, 2,000 older adults (average age: 77) were tracked for a period of six years. Those who began the study with the worst hearing loss – impairment bad enough to interfere with daily conversational ability – were 24% more likely to see a decline in cognitive ability compared to individuals with normal hearing.
A Clear Correlation
In 2017, Karger’s Dementia and Geriatric Cognitive Disorders Extra published several studies over the past decade that concluded that hearing impairment was associated with a greater risk of mild cognitive impairment and dementia in all cases involved. Several other studies cited in the medical journal Lancet between 2017 and 2020 have since revealed a stronger connection between dementia and hearing loss, with one summary this year concluding that the use of hearing aids and reducing exposure to loud noises serve as key factors to help curb cognitive decline.
How Can We Help?
It’s no secret that hearing aids can help. Studies show that patients who treat their hearing loss with hearing devices reduce their odds of cognitive decline and, at the very least, delay the onset of dementia.
More audiologists are using resources and tests, such as a Cognitive Screening, to screen patients who might show signs of cognitive decline related to hearing loss. These procedures help doctors act fast, act first and spring into action to help craft an individual hearing care plan that’s right for you.
Early detection is key. If you are experiencing hearing loss, it’s best to seek treatment as soon as possible in order to avoid mental deterioration. Even if you are unaware of a problem, schedule a hearing evaluation in order to make sure. Because symptoms develop slowly, many patients adjust to gradual changes in hearing without realizing there is anything wrong.To learn more about the relationship between hearing loss and cognitive decline, or to schedule a cognitive screening, call Victory Hearing & Balance at (512) 428-8355.