As people age, one of the most common fears they think about is the possibility of developing dementia. Recently, a study that carefully considered the results of a massive longitudinal study showed surprising results that link the development of dementia with hearing loss.
Though many seniors seem to think that hearing loss is part of the aging process and to be expected, it does not have to be that way. As the studies noted above allude to, addressing hearing loss sooner rather than later could help stave off dementia. This, in turn, could improve the quality of life enjoyed by a senior. Because seniors tend to be more active today than at any other period of time, ensuring that they have a high quality of life is vital.
Researchers from Johns Hopkins University’ Division of Otology within its School of Medicine as well as those from the National Institute on Aging studied data gathered on 639 people during the years of 1990 and 1994. During this time, the study did not find that any of the participants suffered from dementia. There were some, though — about 25 percent — who had hearing loss.
By 2008, researchers discovered that 58 of those people who already had hearing loss also displayed symptoms of dementia. These scientists are not able to determine the exact relationship between hearing loss and dementia. Some speculate that the effort required by a senior’s brain to decipher what is said around them overloads the brains, stressing it out and leaving it vulnerable to dementia. Still others believe that because hearing loss and dementia overlap on some instances — for example, hearing loss often leads to social isolation which is a risk factor for a host of cognitive disorders including dementia.
Beltone, a leader in providing solutions that address hearing loss, provides free, comprehensive hearing tests. These evaluations assess not only the actual functioning of the ear itself but also the lifestyle and history of the senior. These findings are then used in an effort to find the right solutions to help address any hearing loss that is found during testing.