The link between hearing loss and dementia
Untreated hearing loss is linked to many health conditions including depression, anxiety, even heart disease, but did you know older adults with a hearing loss are also more likely to develop dementia?
Studies have shown that hearing loss can increase the risk of developing dementia by up to five times and the greater the hearing loss, the greater the risk. And decline in memory and thinking capabilities happens up to 40 per cent faster in those with a hearing loss compared to those without.1
It’s thought one reason for the link is to do with an overtaxing of the brain. While our ears receive sounds, they send them on to the brain to make sense of them. If the messages the brain’s receiving from the ears isn’t clear, it has to work harder to understand them. This can result in the brain being overworked and, in time, the working memory becomes weakened.
People with a hearing loss are also more susceptible to social isolation which is a known to heighten the risk of dementia.
The good news
The management of hearing loss can reduce your risk of developing dementia, particularly if it’s treated early on. Hearing aids take away the over-taxing on the brain, making it easier to process information. They also make social contact easier so people who use them are less likely to feel isolated.
How can I lower my risk?
Whether or not you have an existing hearing loss, regular hearing checks are important to monitor any changes in hearing so they can be treated accordingly. If a hearing aid is recommended to you, make sure you use it as much as possible to reduce strain on your mind. Not only will your brain thank you, you’ll have the added bonus of finding everyday life easier and enjoying doing the things you love.
1. Frank R. Lin, MD PhD and Marilyn Albert, PhD, 2014, ‘Hearing Loss and Dementia – Who’s Listening?’, Aging Ment Health. 2014 Aug; 18(6): 671–673., viewed 2 July 2019,