Study Portrays Hearing-Dementia Relationship

As if folks who deal with hearing loss don’t have enough on their plates, information from a research study released in 2011, Hearing Loss and Dementia Linked in Study, by Johns Hopkins is linking hearing impairments to cognitive issues such as dementia and possibly Alzheimer’s. Hearing loss is a very common condition in this country, affecting more than 30% of adults Untitledover the age of 60. Recent studies like that from Johns Hopkins conclude that hearing loss in fact may be a risk factor for dementia. The social isolation people with hearing loss deal with, combined with the strain on the brain trying to fill in missing information, is one possibility.

Limited cognitive stimulation can also create feelings of sadness, isolation or even depression. Another reason for the link between dementia and hearing loss could be that a “common pathology may underlie both” or that the strain of decoding sounds over the years may overwhelm the brains of people with hearing loss, leaving them more vulnerable to dementia. Although the findings are alarming, it could lead to more awareness and new ways to combat dementia, a condition that affects millions of people worldwide and also brings a lot of mental and emotional anguish.

We all need to pay attention to the needs and condition of our aging loved ones. Often times, we notice physical ailments of our family members as they age, but what about the things that we cannot always see? Hearing loss is not something easily seen with the human eye. It takes patience and observation, as well as a willingness by both parties to have a conversation. How do we notice hearing loss conditions? Often cognitive struggles, isolation, sadness or avoidance are signs. No matter what the cause, interventions for aging Americans are important. Hearing aids and the help of a caring audiologist can provide ample cognitive and emotional benefits – and maybe even delay or prevent dementia by improving patients’ hearing. Be supportive and be aware. Restored hearing is always welcomed by aging loved ones, but this research may show how important hearing aids could be down the road.

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