Approaching your golden years can be a joy, but unfortunately, it may also come with some frustrating health issues, such as hearing loss and dementia. Both conditions are growing more and more common; hearing loss affects up to two-thirds of adults over the age of 70, while someone is diagnosed with dementia roughly every three seconds. Now, researchers are discussing a possible link between middle-age hearing loss and dementia. While this news may be startling, it actually has positive implications.
The Link Between Hearing Loss and Dementia
Hearing Loss as a Risk Factor
A recent study in Taiwan identified a link between hearing loss in middle age and cognitive decline and dementia in later years. The study involved more than 16,000 individuals, concluding that a hearing loss diagnosis between the ages of 45 and 65 more than doubled the odds of a dementia diagnosis later in life. This aligns with past research suggesting that up to one-third of dementia risk factors are from modifiable lifestyle changes. Surprisingly, the research also found that hearing loss accounts for a greater proportion of dementia risk factors than obesity, depression, diabetes, and even smoking.
This study confirms that hearing health is a major indicator of general wellness. Ultimately, hearing loss is so much more than just a simple frustration. It’s a major health risk and should be treated as such. Hearing health affects both psychological and physical health. What’s more, this study suggests that even minimal levels of hearing loss can increase the risk of cognitive decline. That makes it even more important to protect our hearing as we get older, prioritizing regular hearing screenings and hearing protection in loud environments.
And this isn’t the first study to find a critical link between untreated hearing loss and cognitive decline. According to a study conducted at the University of Colorado’s Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Science, hearing loss increases the brain’s cognitive load. Parts of the brain dedicated to higher-level thinking shift in purpose to help the brain understand speech and recognize sounds. By abandoning their typical roles, these parts of the brain may cause cognitive issues. And over time, this can permanently alter the structure of the brain, allowing neglected regions of the brain to atrophy. To learn more about this study and how hearing loss affects a person’s overall health, check out our page Hearing Loss and Dementia.
The link between middle-age hearing loss and dementia is actually good news for people who are worried about their long-term cognitive health. This research suggests that dementia isn’t always inevitable; in fact, there are several things you can do to reduce your risk of cognitive decline. If you notice a change in your sense of hearing, contact an audiologist right away to schedule a hearing examination. Treating hearing loss promptly is crucial, especially if you have a family history of dementia. Establish a hearing health plan, which should include regular hearing examinations, with your audiologist to ensure your hearing health remains optimal as you enter your sunset years.
Although the link between middle-age hearing loss and dementia may be startling, it’s actually good news. The fact that researchers have found a connection between these conditions means that dementia may not be inevitable in every situation. As a result, working with an audiologist to keep your hearing health in check may be one of the most beneficial things you can do to stave off cognitive decline. So if you’re approaching middle age and have noticed symptoms of hearing loss, it’s time to call your audiologist.
If you have further questions about the link between middle-age hearing loss and dementia, reach out to Sound Relief Hearing Center in Colorado or Arizona. We are a family-owned and operated audiology practice, so we always have the patient’s best interest at heart. Plus, our state-of-the-art technology ensures that our patients receive the best treatment available. With our unparalleled excellence in the hearing health industry, our dedication to patient care, and our commitment to helping people control and conquer their hearing issues, you can count on Sound Relief Hearing Center. To learn more about us, please browse our website, visit our YouTube channel, or give us a call at 720-344-7600. You can also schedule an appointment online to meet with one of our audiologists. We look forward to hearing from you!