What’s the Connection Between Hearing Impairment and Dementia?

Hearing test showing ear of senior man with sound waves simulation technology

If you begin talking about dementia at your next family get-together, you will most likely put a dark cloud above the whole event.

The topic of dementia can be really scary and most individuals aren’t going to go out of their way to talk about it. Dementia, which is a degenerative cognitive condition, makes you lose a grip on reality, experience loss of memory, and causes an over-all loss of mental faculties. No one wants to experience that.

So preventing or at least delaying dementia is important for many individuals. It turns out, untreated hearing loss and dementia have some fairly clear connections and correlations.

That may seem a bit… surprising to you. What does your brain have to do with your ears after all? Why does hearing loss increase chances of dementia?

What happens when your hearing impairment is neglected?

You realize that you’re starting to lose your hearing, but it’s not at the top of your list of worries. It’s nothing that cranking up the volume on your tv won’t fix, right? Maybe you’ll just put on the captions when you’re watching your favorite program.

Or perhaps your hearing loss has gone undetected so far. Perhaps the signs are still hard to detect. In either case, hearing loss and mental decline have a strong correlation. That’s because of the effects of untreated hearing loss.

  • It becomes harder to understand conversations. You could begin to keep yourself secluded from others because of this. You can draw away from family, friends, and loved ones. You won’t talk with people as much. It’s not good for your brain to isolate yourself this way. Not to mention your social life. Further, most people who have this type of isolation won’t even recognize that hearing loss is the cause.
  • Your brain will be working overtime. When you have untreated hearing loss, your ears don’t get nearly as much audio information (this is kind of obvious, yes, but stick with us). This will leave your brain filling in the missing gaps. This is incredibly taxing. The current concept is, when this happens, your brain draws power from your thinking and memory centers. It’s thought that this might speed up the development of dementia. Your brain working so hard can also result in all manner of other symptoms, such as mental fatigue and exhaustion.

You may have thought that your hearing loss was more harmless than it really is.

One of the principal signs of dementia is hearing loss

Maybe your hearing loss is mild. Like, you’re unable to hear whispers, but everything else is normal. Well, even with that, your risk of getting dementia is doubled.

Which means that even minor hearing loss is a fairly strong preliminary sign of a dementia risk.

Now… What does that mean?

We’re looking at risk in this situation which is important to note. Hearing loss isn’t an early symptom of dementia and there’s no guarantee it will result in dementia. Rather, it simply means you have a higher risk of developing dementia or going through cognitive decline later in life. But that could actually be good news.

Because it means that effectively managing your hearing loss can help you reduce your risk of cognitive decline. So how can hearing loss be controlled? There are numerous ways:

  • Set up an appointment with us to identify your existing hearing loss.
  • The impact of hearing loss can be decreased by using hearing aids. So, can cognitive decline be prevented by using hearing aids? That’s difficult to say, but hearing aids can improve brain function. Here’s why: You’ll be capable of participating in more conversations, your brain won’t need to work as hard, and you’ll be a bit more socially involved. Your risk of developing dementia in the future is minimized by treating hearing loss, research indicates. It won’t stop dementia but we can still call it a win.
  • You can take a few steps to safeguard your hearing from further harm if you detect your hearing loss soon enough. You could, for instance, wear ear protection if you work in a loud environment and steer clear of noisy events like concerts or sporting events.

Lowering your chance of dementia – other strategies

Of course, there are other things you can do to lower your chance of dementia, too. Here are some examples:

  • Getting sufficient sleep at night is essential. Some studies have linked an increased risk of dementia to getting fewer than four hours of sleep each night.
  • Eating more healthy food, especially one that helps you keep your blood pressure from getting too high. For individuals who naturally have higher blood pressure, it could be necessary to take medication to lower it.
  • Don’t smoke. Seriously. It just makes everything worse, and that includes your risk of experiencing dementia (this list also includes excessive alcohol use).
  • Exercise is needed for good overall health including hearing health.

The link between lifestyle, hearing loss, and dementia is still being examined by scientists. There are so many causes that make this disease so complex. But any way you can decrease your risk is good.

Being able to hear is its own advantage

So, over time, hearing better will decrease your overall risk of cognitive decline. You’ll be bettering your life now, not just in the future. Imagine, no more solitary trips to the store, no more confused conversations, no more misunderstandings.

It’s no fun missing out on life’s important moments. And a small amount of hearing loss management, maybe in the form of a hearing aid, can help significantly.

So make sure to schedule an appointment with us right away!



The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.

Questions? Talk To Us.

    Delaney Hearing Center

    Charlottesville, VA

    671 Berkmar Court,Charlottesville, VA 22901

    Call or Text: 434-205-6800

    Fax: 434-321-1628

    Monday through Friday, 9am – 5pm

    facebook   Charlottesville, VA Google Business Profile

    Fredericksburg, VA

    109 Olde Greenwich Drive, #102 Fredericksburg, VA 22408

    Call or Text: 434-326-5108

    Fax: 434-321-1628

    Monday through Friday, 9am - 5pm

    facebook   Fredericksburg, VA Google Business Profile

    Find out how we can help!

    Call or Text Us