Hearing Loss Linked to Cognitive Problems

hear3According to the Hearing Loss Association of America, more than 48 million Americans suffer from hearing loss and by the time Americans reach their 70s, two-thirds have a hearing impairment.

Unfortunately, researchers are finding that hearing loss may increase the risk of cognitive problems and even dementia. One Johns Hopkins study, for example, found that older adults with hearing problems appear to have a greater rate of brain shrinkage as they age.

There’s no definitive answer yet to how hearing loss might contribute to cognitive problems but one possibility is “cognitive load,” that is, the effort of constantly straining to understand what you are hearing puts additional stress on the brain and can take resources away from brain functions, such as working memory.

Social isolation may also be a factor. When it’s a struggle to converse, you’re less likely to want to socialize in groups or go out to restaurants. And being socially isolated has long been recognized as a risk factor for cognitive decline and dementia.

Doctors typically don’t focus on hearing loss as a priority when evaluating a patient’s overall health, but the fact is that treating hearing loss more aggressively could help stave off cognitive decline and dementia. In fact, the benefits of correcting hearing loss on cognition are twice as great as the benefits from any cognitive-enhancing drugs now on the market.

May is Better Hearing Month. Maybe it’s a good time to have your hearing checked. If you have even a mild loss, you can benefit from today’s wide range of state-of-the-art hearing aids.

You may also want to call Optiminds at (248) 496-0150 to learn more about our cognitive improvement programs for older adults. Optiminds has earned a reputation for helping to improve the study, reading, math, cognitive skills and memory of students of all ages. Be sure to visit our website at: optimindsct.com.


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