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Connections Between Hearing Loss and Dementia

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Hearing loss and dementia—it’s a relationship that has been given increasing attention in recent years. And with that attention has come a growing focus on hearing health. When a patient test positive in a diagnostic audiology assessment—and amplification is indicated as a therapy—we can’t urge you strongly enough to encourage your patients to get their hearing loss treated. It’s also important for them to understand the potential consequences of ignoring their hearing loss.

Continuing research is making it more and more clear that the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are both connected to hearing loss. In a 2013 study, the respected researcher, Dr. Frank Lin, looked at the relationship between hearing loss and cognitive function among nearly 2,000 adults with an average age of 77.4 years. Evaluating over six years, Lin found that, “there is little doubt that hearing loss is a factor in loss of mental acuity in older adults.”

In another study, this one involving 3,670 adults (the youngest among them being 65 years old) researcher Hélène Amieva, PhD compared the progression of cognitive decline for participants with and without hearing aids. The people wearing hearing aids had the same rate of cognitive decline shown by a control group of people with no reported hearing loss at all. Participants with hearing loss who did not wear hearing aids, demonstrated lower scores on tests of cognitive function during a follow-up period of twenty-five years.

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