The Link Between Hearing Loss and Dementia
by Tate Handy
It’s become normal to experience some hearing loss and memory loss as you age; however, research in recent years has shown that hearing loss and Alzheimer’s disease share many common symptoms and may actually predict each other. In those over 60, hearing loss accounts for over one-third of the risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
Hearing loss affects 48 million people in the United States, and Alzheimer’s (a type of dementia that disrupts memory, thinking, cognition, and behavior) impacts over five million Americans. The two diseases share many common symptoms, like inappropriate responses to social cues and feelings of isolation, depression, and denial. Those suffering from hearing loss or Alzheimer’s may also struggle with talking or understanding others speaking; they also score lower on mental function tests.
Scientists believe that this correlation may be traced back to brain activity and locations of different processes. The temporal cortex, occipital cortex, posterior parietal cortex, and brain stem all influence our hearing, and they’re all close to the part of the brain that’s first impacted by Alzheimer’s.
Furthermore, mild hearing loss doubles the risk of dementia, and the risk of dementia also rises as hearing loss increases. To prevent dementia and hearing loss, maintain an active, healthy brain through mentally stimulating activities, and speak with your doctor to get tested for early hearing loss. Early treatment of hearing loss by getting hearing aids can help you address many of the common symptoms of hearing loss and Alzheimer’s while also maintaining a high cognitive function.
About the Author
Tate Handy is a marketing professional from Chicago.