Hearing Loss and Dementia: How are they connected?
Hearing loss is something that can happen to all people of all ages and impacts everyone differently. While it can be a difficult thing to deal with on its own, hearing loss can also be connected to other comorbidities including dementia. Dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease, is the loss of memory and ability to think and make critical decisions. Hearing loss gives you up to five times of an increased risk for developing dementia in your lifetime, but how are the two connected?
Your brain is responsible for picking up the sounds and cues that help you navigate through life. It learns the sounds that keep you safe and balanced while walking. When you are having trouble hearing, your brain has to work significantly harder to listen to and process these sounds. Experts believe that this extra work puts increased stress on your brain and causes it to atrophy at a faster rate than it normally would.
One of the most difficult parts of experiencing hearing loss is the disconnect you might feel with the world around you. You may miss out on important conversations and details when talking with your friends and family. After a while, you might even start to withdraw yourself from conversations and social events. Not only can this lead to depression, but it removes a major form of stimulation for your brain, which is important for the health of your memory.
What can you do to help?
While dementia and Alzheimer’s can occur regardless, you can mitigate your risk due to hearing loss. Here are some actions you can take to protect your hearing:
- Wear hearing protection while doing loud activities
- Avoid noisy environments and crowds
- Do not place foreign objects in your ear
- Visit a local hearing health provider for a hearing exam
Hearing loss, ranging from mild to severe, can put you at an up to five times increased risk for developing dementia. You can lower your risk by doing your best to protect your hearing throughout your lifetime and treating your hearing loss when you need to. Hearing aids can be an effective treatment that helps you reconnect with the world around you.
June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month. Do your part to protect your brain health by contacting our office to schedule your hearing exam today!