Hearing loss is frustrating for those who have it and for their loved ones. But recent research shows that it also is linked with walking problems, falls and even dementia.
In a John Hopkins' study that tracked 639 adults for nearly 12 years, Johns Hopkins found that mild hearing loss doubled dementia risk. Moderate loss tripled the risk, and people with a severe hearing impairment were five times more likely to develop dementia.
- Dementia - A loss of brain function that can be caused by a variety of disorders affecting the brain. Symptoms include forgetfulness, impaired thinking, and judgment, personality changes, agitation and loss of emotional control. Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease and inadequate blood flow to the brain can all cause dementia. Most types of dementia are irreversible.
- Social Isolation/Loneliness - Loneliness that can affect health. People who are socially isolated have little day-to-day contact with others, have few fulfilling relationships and lack a sense of belonging. Social isolation can increase the risk of poor eating, smoking, alcohol use, lack of exercise, depression, dementia, poor sleep, and heart disease.
- Walking Problems and Falls - As you walk, your ears pick up subtle cues that help with balance. Hearing loss mutes these important signals It also makes your brain work harder just to process sound. This subconscious multitasking may interfere with some of the mental processing needed to walk safely.
Hearing aids can help reduce these risks. Although nearly 27 million Americans age 50 and older have hearing loss, only one in seven uses a hearing aid. If you think your hearing has diminished, it’s worth making an appointment with us to have our audiologists check your hearing.