The short answer is yes.

However, there may be other factors that need to be considered, and research is on-going.

  • In a study that tracked 639 adults for nearly 12 years, Johns Hopkins expert Frank Lin, M.D., Ph.D., and his colleagues found that mild hearing loss doubled dementia risk. 
  • Moderate loss tripled risk, and people with severe hearing impairment were five times more likely to develop dementia. This means that hearing loss is linked to a 30-40% greater risk of cognitive decline than that faced by people without hearing loss. (Johns Hopkins Medicine)

The Reason For This is Multi-fold…

  • People with hearing loss tend to feel isolated since it’s hard to join in conversations or be social with others when you can’t hear.
  • Some research has shown a link between feeling lonely or isolated and dementia. So, hearing loss may make mental decline happen faster than it would otherwise.
  • Your brain has to work harder to process sound if you don’t hear well. That may take away resources that it could use for other important activities.
  • If your ears can no longer pick up on as many sounds, your hearing nerves will send fewer signals to your brain. As a result, the brain declines.
  • Older adults with hearing loss are more likely to develop problems thinking and remembering than older adults whose hearing is normal, according to a study by hearing experts at Johns Hopkins.
  • Seniors with hearing loss are significantly more likely to develop dementia over time than those who retain their hearing. A study by Johns Hopkins and National Institute on Aging researchers suggests. The findings, the researchers say, could lead to new ways to combat dementia, a condition that affects millions of people worldwide and carries heavy societal burdens.

Although age-related hearing loss is commonly accepted as “the norm” (2 out of 3 adults aged 70 or over experience some degree of hearing loss), that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do anything about it!

The 2020 Lancet Commission report, titled “Dementia Prevention, Intervention, and Care,” states that modifying 12 risk factors could delay or prevent 40% of dementia cases.1Of these risk factors, untreated hearing loss in midlife is the That means that the number one treatable risk factor is the use of hearing aids for hearing loss!

The authors encourage the use of hearing aids for hearing loss and report that reduced cognitive stimulation can contribute to cognitive decline. “Using hearing aids appears to reduce the excess risk from hearing loss,” they wrote, particularly in midlife.

Early adoption of hearing aids can help people lead a higher quality of life, stay active, and help prevent untreated hearing loss risks, which include isolation, depression, and dementia.

Treating hearing loss could potentially help reduce the risk of cognitive decline and dementia. This is not to say that if you have untreated hearing loss, that you will experience dementia, but you are at risk for accelerated cognitive decline.

Don’t wait another day! Get your hearing checked by the experts at Audiology On Call!

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Kelli Smith, Au.D.

Dr. Smith earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Communication Science and Disorders from the University of Montevallo in 1991, graduating with Cum Laude honors. She received her Master’s Degree in Audiology in 1993 from the University of South Carolina and completed her clinical Doctorate of Audiology degree (Au.D.) from Arizona School of Health Sciences in 2005. Dr. Smith is licensed by the State of Georgia as an Audiologist. She is a member of the American Academy of Audiology (AAA), the Academy of Doctors of Audiology (ADA), and the Georgia Academy of Audiology (GAA), where she served on the Board as a regional representative from 2004-2007, Chair of Publications from 2004-2008, and webmaster from 2005-2011. In 2012, Dr. Smith was awarded Honors of the Association for outstanding service to GAA.