Hearing Loss and Dementia – Did You Know Delaying Treatment Doubles Your Risk?

Grandmother and granddaughter smiling

Sure, most of us aren’t twenty years old anymore, but that doesn’t mean we need to just sit by and let our hearing and minds go out the window too. We may not have perfect figures anymore or be able to leap buildings in a single bound like we could when we were young, but we can solve many hearing problems and, in many cases, avoid or limit dementia. 

Researchers conducted brain scans and other measures of cognitive decline and have determined that a reduction in stimuli – such as hearing loss or vision loss – may contribute to brain atrophy and, in turn, cognitive decline. 

Even mild hearing loss–when untreated–has been shown to double the odds you’ll get dementia. If you have moderate hearing loss, your risk triples, and it’s even worse if you have severe hearing loss and don’t get treatment–you’re five times more likely to get dementia.

Untreated hearing loss has also been associated with an increased risk of depression, anxiety, falls, and other health issues. 

And we’re all at risk. Hearing loss is on the rise across all demographics (even people in their 20’s), and is expected to grow to more than 580 million worldwide by 2050. Between noise pollution, increased use of headphones and earbuds, and genetic factors, we all should include regular hearing aid tests as part of our annual health screenings.

Which early signs of hearing loss to watch for

If you’re showing any signs of hearing loss, it’s best to get tested. Early signs are often overlooked or attributed to other things. 

For example, most people don’t realize these are all early signs of hearing loss:

  • Not being able to make out conversation in noisy rooms
  • Difficulty hearing either low or high-pitched voices
  • Trouble discerning words that sound similar
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Unexplained fatigue
  • Memory problems
Grandparents cuddling with their grandson