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Older adults often experience hearing loss as part of the normal aging process, or from damage caused by noise exposure during their lifetime. One in three adults over 65 have a hard time hearing, and almost half of adults over 75 have hearing loss. Not only is hearing loss common among older adults, living with untreated hearing loss can increase the risks of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Seeking hearing loss treatment could be the key to preventing or delaying dementia.
How Hearing Loss Affects Your Health
Hearing loss makes it hard for you to hear all the sounds around you, and you miss a lot of the soft sounds in your environment. If you have hearing loss, you struggle to follow conversations, often asking people to repeat themselves. Frank Lin, a researcher at Johns Hopkins University who studies hearing loss and the brain, says that hearing loss should be taken more seriously.
People often think their hearing loss is not a big deal, but Lin stresses that hearing loss leads to some major consequences. If you’re living with untreated hearing loss, you have a higher risk of having an accident or fall since you’re not as aware of all the things happening in your environment. Older adults with hearing loss are also more likely to live with social isolation which can lead to stress, anxiety, and even depression. Finally, Lin points out that hearing loss changes the brain, and hearing loss increases the risk of rapid cognitive decline, potentially leading to dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
How Hearing Loss and Dementia Are Linked
Lin has researched how hearing loss affects the brain, and he notes that hearing loss leads to cognitive decline. He found that people with untreated hearing loss perform poorly on tasks that test concentration, planning, and memory. Meanwhile, those who treated their hearing loss performed well on these same tests. Lin’s research shows that older adults who have hearing loss have higher rates of cognitive decline if they don’t treat their hearing loss.
Hearing Loss and Your Brain
How does hearing loss lead to dementia? Hearing loss affects the brain in surprising ways. When you can’t hear clearly, you spend a lot of energy straining to hear. Your brain diverts a lot of energy to helping you hear, and some of your other cognitive functions suffer. That’s why living with hearing loss can make it harder for you to concentrate or remember things.
Not only does hearing loss affect your cognition, hearing loss can actually change your brain. People with hearing loss have less gray matter in the brain, showing that hearing loss can lead to changes in brain structures. When areas of the brain are damaged and cells in these areas die, you will experience more cognitive decline, and have an increased risk of dementia.
Treat Your Hearing Loss to Prevent or Delay Dementia
If you treat your hearing loss, you could delay or even prevent dementia! Treating hearing loss with hearing aids helps you hear all the sounds around you without putting a lot of strain on your brain. When you can hear clearly, it will be easy to concentrate on tasks, develop your memory, and keep your mind active and engaged.
Treating hearing loss will also help you exercise your brain. With clear hearing you’ll enjoy having conversations with loved ones, attending social events, and learning new things. You won’t feel isolated, and you can participate in all your favorite social activities. As you maintain your relationships with the people who matter the most, you’ll increase your overall well being, exercise your mind, and help delay or prevent dementia.
Finding the Perfect Hearing Aids
Treating hearing loss is all about finding the perfect hearing aids. At Hearing Health Portland we’re committed to finding the right hearing aids for your lifestyle and your hearing needs. Whether you want to hear better at events, or need help hearing in crowded restaurants, we have devices to match your needs. We have a range of styles to choose from, including behind the ear devices, in the ear hearing aids, and even in the canal hearing aids. Find the perfect hearing aids for your hearing needs, and help prevent or delay dementia.