The Surprising Links Between Hearing Loss and Dementia
Coping with hearing loss brings several challenges to a person’s life, both physical and emotional. Unfortunately, this condition can also make someone susceptible to certain mental health issues, including dementia. Recent studies have suggested that links between hearing loss and dementia are prevalent, especially among aging adults.
Academic Studies Link Hearing Loss and Dementia
Hearing loss affects more than 48 million people nationwide, according to the Hearing Loss Association of America. Many of these patients are at an increased risk for cognitive decline and dementia. While no one quite knows the cause of the condition, researchers link dementia with brain cell damage and death.
According to a 2013 study by researchers at Johns Hopkins University, 2,000 elderly adults were examined over a period of six years. By the end of the study, respondents with severe hearing loss were 24% more likely to see cognitive decline than their peers. A 2011 study by the same research team found that the more severe a person’s hearing loss was, the more likely they were to develop dementia.
There are four possible reasons why hearing loss can lead to dementia.
Hearing loss may impact the brain’s structure, leading to cognitive issues.
Cognitive load can contribute to this decline. When you have severe hearing loss, you have to strain to understand what you are hearing. This constant strain puts pressure on the brain, which could lead to cognitive decline.
There are a few common physiological pathways that could link severe hearing loss and cognitive decline. For example, high blood pressure is a risk factor for both conditions.
Social isolation may connect dementia and hearing loss. The more limited a person’s hearing is, the less likely they are to socialize with other people. This lack of stimulation may contribute to cognitive decline and dementia.
Tips to Promote Mental Well-Being
If you are worried about declining mental wellness in your sunset years, here are a few tips to keep your brain active and healthy.
Keep your social connections. Interacting with other people will keep your brain healthy well into your later years. Maintaining good relationships with family and friends, as well as engaging in conversations on a regular basis, can have a positive effect on your mental wellness.
Establish a regular exercise routine. Moderate exercise protects your brain and helps maintain its wellness. Cardiovascular exercise is especially helpful in promoting brain health. Aim for at least 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise five days each week for best results.
Keep your brain active. Consider continuing your education and learning new skills to keep your mind active. Reading, playing board games, chess, and learning an instrument or a foreign language all stimulate the brain.
Follow a nutritious diet full of foods that promote brain health. Olive oil, nuts and seeds, fruits and vegetables, legumes, and fish all contain the vitamins and minerals necessary to promote brain health.
Are you experiencing hearing loss in the Webster, Texas area? Contact Bay Area Audiology today to schedule an appointment with one of our audiology professionals.