Can Hearing Loss Be a Predictor of Dementia? Scientific studies have shown that if an individual is born with hearing loss, they typically have other diseases or disorders accompanying the hearing loss.
Now, it is apparent that this is the case when people get diagnosed with hearing loss later on in life. One of the most recent connections is the link between hearing loss and dementia. According to Alzheimer’s Association, Dementia is a general term for a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life. Dementia, itself, is not a disease; it is more of an umbrella term that describes symptoms associated with a decline in memory or other thinking skills severe enough to reduce a person’s ability to perform everyday activities. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia. Some causes of dementia are:
- Medication Side effects
- Excess use of alcohol
- Thyroid Problem
- Vitamin Deficiencies (alz.com)
Some ways to prevent or slow the onset of dementia is a good diet, exercise, and reducing cardiovascular factors like high blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar.
Dr. Frank Lin, from John Hopkins University, says “the general perception is that hearing loss is relatively inconsequential part of aging…[suggesting] that it may play a much more important role in brain health that we’ve previously thought”. All of the theories surrounding the link between hearing loss and dementia are not completely proven yet. Research is still being conducted in the area, however, strong results are being found. AARP, Association of American Retired Persons, list a few ways that hearing loss can lead to dementia.
- Something that leads to both hearing loss and cognitive decline. Examples would be like high blood pressure.
- Brain functioning: When brain functioning is declining, then the brain loses it functioning. Arthur Wingfield from Brandeis University states “if you put a lot of effort just to comprehend what you’re hearing; it takes resources that would otherwise be available for encoding [what you hear] in memory”. Memory helps strengthen the brain.
- Social isolation: Individuals who are hard of hearing and do not receive the proper treatment tend to dissociate from their peers due to not being able to understand or hear. Social isolation has been majorly linked as a risk factor to dementia.
Overall, hearing loss and dementia are both illnesses that should not be taken lightly.