Link Between Hearing Loss and Dementia

Many older adults face hearing issues as they age. We know that hearing loss can negatively impact the quality of life. However, it also has been linked to dementia. Learn how hearing loss is connected to dementia.

Statistics on the Connection Between Hearing Loss and Dementia

Several studies have found that hearing loss can increase the risk of dementia.

  • Hearing loss may contribute to up to 8% of dementia cases. This means that out of 10 million new cases of dementia being reported every year, 800,000 cases could be related to hearing loss.
  • People struggling to hear in noisy environments may have a 61%-91% risk of developing dementia compared to those with normal hearing.
  • In a study that monitored 2,000 seniors for over 6 years, those with hearing loss were 24% more likely to develop cognitive decline compared to those with normal hearing.
  • In another study that looked at 4,500 seniors without dementia, 16.3% of those with hearing loss developed dementia compared to 12.1% of those without hearing loss.

How Does Untreated Hearing Loss Cause Dementia?

Hearing loss can lead to social withdrawal and brain changes which may increase the risk of dementia:

  • Brain Atrophy

    Due to hearing loss, the hearing portion of the brain becomes less active, causing changes in brain structure and function. These changes can cause brain atrophy, which is characterized by a loss of neurons and the connections between them, decreasing brain volume and thus causing problems with memory and cognition.

  • Social Isolation

    People with hearing loss often become less engaged in daily life, social activities, and communication in general. This results in decreased brain activity, which in turn can lead to decreased cognitive ability overall and is believed to increase the risk of dementia.

How Can Hearing Aids Reduce the Risk of Dementia?

The parts of the brain responsible for processing speech and sound need stimulation. In cases of hearing loss, that stimulation can largely be restored if enough amplification is provided to overcome damage to the ears. Hearing aids can also encourage a person with hearing loss to re-engage socially, increasing brain engagement, which may reduce the chances of developing dementia. Hearing aids also improve quality of life by making communication easier.

A study reveals that hearing aids may delay the beginning of dementia. Another study reveals that, out of 2,000 people aged 50 and above who were administered word recall tests every 2 years for about 18 years, those who received hearing aids experienced a slower decline in recollection of previous experiences.

How Can Hoffmann Audiology Help?

If you have hearing difficulties, schedule an appointment with our audiologist, Dr. Chris Hoffmann, at Hoffmann Audiology for diagnosis and treatment. She will perform an appropriate hearing test in Irvine, CA, to determine the type, cause, and degree of your hearing loss and develop a personalized treatment plan to improve your hearing.


Content Sources: The Lancet, WHO, NIH, AGS Journal


Chris Lin Hoffmann

Dr. Chris Hoffmann is an audiologist who has been involved in hearing sciences for over 20 years. Her passion for helping people with their hearing led her to establish Hoffmann Audiology hearing clinic. Dr. Hoffmann has more than 14 years of clinical knowledge in hearing testing, hearing aid fittings, and aural rehabilitation.

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