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Saturday , July , 13 2024
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Hearing & Balance Associates

Hearing loss, Dementia, and Alzheimer's Disease are linked

Studies indicate hearing loss can be linked to the onset of dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

Frank R. Lin, M.D, Ph.D of John's Hopkins University recently observed 1984 adults with a mean age of 77.4 years over the course of six years, tracking the progression of their hearing loss in relation to their cognitive function.  Dr. Lin concluded there is little doubt that hearing loss is a factor in loss of mental acuity in older adults.  The study also indicated that the more severe the hearing loss, the greater the likelihood of developing a cognitive disorder, and the steeper the decline in mental function. Subjects with severe hearing loss were five times more likely to develop dementia than those with normal hearing. However, even subjects with mild hearing loss were found more likely to experience cognitive failures.

Another recent study by Dr. Jamie Desjardins, PhD, (University of Texas El Paso) indicated that hearing aids improve brain function in people with hearing loss.  The study looked at the cognitive function in 50-60 year old first time hearing aid users. After only two weeks of hearing aid use, tests revealed an increase in percent scores for recalling words in working memory and selective attention tests, and the processing speed at which participants selected the correct response was faster.  By the end of the study, participants had exhibited significant improvement in their cognitive function.

"Hearing aids should be considered not only to improve hearing but to preserve the brain" - Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania 8/31/11.  As hearing worsens, the impaired person is likely to become increasingly frustrated and socially isolated.  Social isolation has been linked to depression and increased risk of death from conditions like heart disease. And now there is another risk associated with hearing problems: dementia and Alzheimer's disease.  

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