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Hearing Loss and Dementia

Research shows that untreated hearing loss can increase the rate of age-related cognitive decline. And two-thirds of Americans have some form of hearing loss by the time they reach their 70s. Fortunately, treating hearing loss can stave off this cognitive decline. 

Hearing loss affects the brain and ears

Starting at the age of 65, the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease doubles every five years. The cognitive demands of processing sound appear to offset decreases in brain reserve capacity as one ages. Just as speaking multiple languages is an activity that maintains brain capacity, hearing also has a positive impact on brain reserve capacity.

If you don’t hear well, your brain must work much harder to process sound. It allocates resources away from other cognitive functions to try to make up this deficit. Also, as your hearing decreases, the brain receives less stimulation as fewer signals are transmitted via the auditory nerve. Cognitive function declines from lack of stimulation. 

Protect against isolation and dementia

Hearing loss in the elderly leads to social isolation. When you can’t hear well in social situations, you withdraw. Social isolation is also a contributing factor in dementia. 

Addressing hearing loss early decreases social isolation. When it’s easier to understand conversation in social settings such as parties and restaurants, you participate more. When talking on the phone isn’t a chore, you stay in contact with friends and family far away. 
Stimulation from the sounds and interactions with others fights cerebral atrophy. The brain stays engaged, exercised and maintains reserve capacity.

It’s never too early 

Its never too early to begin the fight against dementia. My Hearing Center can expertly assess your ability to hear, identify the nature and degree of any deficiency and recommend a treatment plan to keep you engaged and your brain active.  Some people live with hearing loss for up to seven years without seeking treatment. Don’t waste seven years of your cognitive life. Make an appointment to discuss the hearing loss and dementia connection today.