Are Hearing Loss and Dementia Related?
Do you ever find yourself looking for something, only to realize it’s right in front of you? We all have things like this happen to us. For example, looking for your phone only to learn you’re actually talking on it, or how about looking for your glasses that are either on top of your head or even right on your nose where they should be? It can be frustrating. We may shrug it off and laugh at ourselves, but when it keeps happening, it can be a bit haunting, and you might begin to wonder about your future.
Worry for what’s to come in the future regarding your forgetfulness can be especially justified if you have a family history of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. If you’ve watched a parent or close loved one go through cognitive decline, it can be scary to think that you could potentially be facing the same thing as you age.
If dementia is a concern (let’s be honest, it should be a concern for everyone), what can you do about it? How can you help prevent it? Let’s find out…
Can Hearing Loss Be Related to Dementia?
There have been many studies showing a correlation between hearing loss and dementia. It’s not really something you would think about initially, but it makes sense. When we have hearing loss, we don’t hear as many things going on around us, including conversations directed to us. This can make the “hearing” part of our brain slow and even begin to atrophy because it’s not working as hard to make sense of the words we are hearing.
It’s not just the hearing portion of our brains that’s affected either. In a study done in 2011 by Jonathan Peelle at the University of Pennsylvania, a “grey area” was seen on scans in the places of the brain that controls the senses, including sight, hearing, and speech. The affected area also included the region where memory, emotions, decision-making, and self-control come about – some pretty important elements of daily life, right?
Another link between hearing loss and dementia is when the brain is overworked because it’s constantly trying to make sense of what is being said. When you’re straining to hear others speak to you all day long, your mental energy is exhausted. And then you find yourself with no energy left for other things you need to do like mentally process clear thoughts as well as physically move. The noticeable symptoms of Alzheimer’s, dementia, and other cognitive issues can become center stage in someone’s life very quickly.
Could My Dementia Be Hearing Loss Instead?
If you find yourself constantly misunderstanding people or drained after having a conversation with a friend, don’t just assume you have dementia. Hearing loss can imitate cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease. So it may be time for a hearing test and hearing aids instead.
If you take a hearing test and find out you have a fair amount of hearing loss, it’s important to remember that your risk of developing dementia is greater. However, taking action now will help you live a longer, happier life.
Here are some ways you can slow the onset of dementia:
- Wearing hearing aids consistently
- Making healthy choices when it comes to your nutrition and activity
- Taking medications as directed by your doctor
- Staying in touch and active with friends and family
When you take this proactive approach, you can keep your mind active and healthy as you enter the golden years of life.
Hearing Loss, Social Isolation and Dementia
You may wonder what hearing loss, social isolation, and dementia all have in common, but they are actually very closely related and happen to result from one another.
Have you noticed that when a loved one has hearing loss that becomes more apparent, they tend to isolate themselves a little more and fade into the background in certain social situations? Soon they no longer attend events and social activities altogether. When hearing loss is untreated, people become lonely, anxious, depressed, and constantly worry that people are bothered by their increasing request to repeat words and questions.
People who keep up a full, active lifestyle that includes friends and family have a stimulated brain through their interactions with others. When we become isolated, we use our brains less, and they begin to weaken. This isolation puts us at greater risk for dementia.
Can Hearing Aids Help Prevent Dementia?
Although there hasn’t been enough research done on this topic, the use of hearing aids has proven to prevent dementia in a couple of ways.
First, those who have used hearing aids early on have continued to live the active lifestyle they are used to. They continue to go out, meet up with friends, attend family parties and connect with their grandkids. Because they are not isolating themselves due to their hearing loss, the brain continues to be active and engaged. The repercussions seem to be endless. Hearing aids can help you avoid serious conditions like depression, anxiety, and other physical health problems.
As we’ve discussed, hearing aids can delay symptoms of dementia, including accidental falls. Hearing and balance are intertwined. It all seems to come back to keeping the brain stimulated, active, and not too overworked.
Where Can I Find Help with my Hearing Loss?
If you or someone you love and care for is experiencing hearing loss, it’s best to explore your options sooner than later. Hearing aids not only improve your hearing, but they can also help you maintain your independence, as well as your physical, mental, and emotional health.
A hearing specialist at Fairfax Hearing Center is ready to show you the newest and best products available. By scheduling a consultation and hearing test, your hearing expert can find the best solution for your specific needs and desires. Everyone is different, has a different lifestyle, habits, and unique needs. Because of this, you can explore many options. For more information, contact our team at Fairfax Hearing Center today.