Hearing loss is a health-risk time bomb. Present in two thirds of older adults, the impacts of hearing loss go far beyond the struggle to hear, to communicate easily. Hearing loss is not just a nuisance that comes with aging.
As a result of research at Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Northwestern, Vanderbilt, and other prominent medical schools and research centers around the world, we now know that hearing loss increases the risks of dementia.
Research at Johns Hopkins and the National Institute on Aging indicates older Americans with hearing loss are significantly more likely to develop dementia than those who retain their hearing. For example
Your brain needs a sufficient amount of ‘sound’ to function optimally. Healthy hearing achieves this. But with diminished hearing, less auditory information reaches the brain. It's true — hearing is sound for thinking.
If you have a loss of hearing, using hearing aids lowers your risk of dementia, slows (or reverses) cognitive decline. People who wear hearing aids reduce their risk of dementia by 18%, depression by 11%, and fall-related injuries by 13%.
If you are an adult over 50 years of age, schedule an annual hearing screening with an audiologist. A 15-minute hearing screening is an objective measure of your current hearing ability — not how well you think you can hear.
Even if you do not suspect you have a hearing loss, it is wise to get a hearing screening annually for two reasons…
At Columbia University’s Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, Justin S. Golub, MD, investigated whether a cognitive decline was present in people classified as having normal hearing but had some loss of hearing. He found
Researchers at Johns Hopkins discovered the brains of people with hearing loss atrophied faster than those with normal hearing (confirmed by MRI evidence). The study's lead, Dr. Frank Lin, advises treating hearing loss before structural changes to the brain occur.