Age-Related Hearing Loss is the third most chronic condition in seniors over the age of 65. Hearing loss is also associated with other challenges–that when left untreated, can put your health at risk. One of these is the increased risk of developing Dementia.
There are three major risk factors associated with Hearing Loss and Dementia: Social Isolation, Cerebral Atrophy and Cognitive Overload.
Last month’s blog outlined the dangers of Social Isolation. Untreated hearing loss can make an individual pull away from normal social activity and fall into a declining mental state. Proactive hearing loss treatment can help aging adults remain active and independent. Check out our last blog post here to learn more about how to remain active while battling feelings of isolation due to hearing loss.
Cerebral Atrophy is described as a loss of neurons and their connections resulting in brain shrinkage. This is common in many diseases that affect the brain-like Dementia. Even individuals with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) show signs of cerebral atrophy. In recent years, scientific research has demonstrated that hearing impairment is associated with accelerated brain atrophy.
Some of the areas of the brain that are most commonly affected by cerebral atrophy and hearing impairment are memory, hearing, speech and language.
Cognitive Overload occurs when your brain is working to hard to hear. Hearing loss is NOT normal, and when it occurs, it puts excess strain on your brain to interpret sounds. This strain overloads your brain, trying to fill in the missing pieces of noise and conversations.
Increased cognitive strain is considered a risk factor for developing Dementia. Individuals who treat their hearing loss do not work as hard to listen and have as much as a 20% increase in memory recall when following a conversation.
How to decrease Hearing Loss health risks:
When we take a proactive approach to hearing loss, we can significantly reduce the increased risk of developing Dementia, among other health concerns. Leaving hearing loss untreated leaves individuals at risk for social isolation, cerebral atrophy and cognitive overload. Call our office today if you or a loved one is suffering with untreated hearing loss (or their current treatment is not working well enough for them!). Our proactive team will help you develop a hearing treatment plan to keep you living a healthy, active life.