Hearing Loss and Dementia

Hearing loss and dementia are connected. Research finds links between hearing impairment and cognitive impairment. This is truer for men.  As hearing loss worsens, the risk of developing dementia increases. hearing lossPeople with mild auditory loss are almost twice as likely to develop dementia. Risk increases three-fold for moderate loss. Five times as much for peope with severe hearing loss.

Basic Facts

Hearing loss of 25 Decibels (mild) over the age of sixty can increase the risk of dementia by 36 percent.

Every 10-decibel increase in hearing loss adds risk for Alzheimer’s or other cognitive impairment by 20 percent.

Many folks with mild hearing loss are unaware of it so no intervention is made.

A simple hearing test, can detect minor or mild hearing loss.

Treatment options are available.

Hearing loss causes changes in the brain, increasing risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Ear and Brain Connection

We hear through our ears; sound reaches the brain which interprets those sounds or language. Therefore sound and language stimulate the brain making sense of it all. The brain becomes less active when hearing is damaged or impaired.  This leads to loss of brain tissue and alters brain structure (shrinkage).

Another link between the two is brain burden or overload. When straining to hear, your brain works harder to receive the incoming audible information. Because continuous strain overwhelms the brain, using brain power from other cognitive functions like memory and thinking.

Untreated hearing loss often leads to greater social isolation. People get aggravated repeating themselves. The person with hearing loss gets tired of asking what was said. They also begin realizing  they are missing information that they did not hear. Because social isolation increases loneliness even less stimulation is reaching the brain. As the brain receives less stimulus from hearing and information cues, it can atrophy more quickly. Lonliness can also lead to anxiety and depression. Therefore social withdrawal is another risk factor increasing the odds for developing dementia.


Begin routine hearing tests along with your eye exams once you turn 60. Many hearing aid places offer complimentary hearing tests which are painless and quick. When hearing loss is detected, further testing is conducted. Because hearing has such a strong influence on our lives we must protect this important sense. Keep in mind that balance is also a function in the ear.

Your audiologist has tips to improve hearing and may recommend hearing aids. Today’s hearing aids are full of technology.  They are better, smaller and more efficient. Personalized hearing aids address your specific auditory needs. So, amplification is only one part of it. Many folks need aids to differentiate sounds and drown out background noise. Research shows how important it is to treat hearing loss early. Individualized hearing aids helps you to hear, slow memory loss and improves the person’s quality of life.