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Approximately one third of Americans between the ages of 65 and 74 and nearly half of those over the age of 75 have hearing loss (National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders [NIDCD], 2010). Many older adults will have both hearing impairment and cognitive loss, and, together, these losses will affect communication, social participation, and quality of life (Pichora-Fuller, Dupuis, Reed, & Lemke, 2013).

Lin et al. (2013) found that individuals with baseline hearing loss had greater rates of cognitive decline over time than individuals with normal hearing. A 12 year study by investigators from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine found a significant relationship between hearing loss and dementia. For older adults, 1/3 of the risk for dementia was associated with hearing loss.
One hypothesis is that when a hearing loss is present, greater cognitive resources are dedicated to auditory processing, leaving fewer resources for other cognitive processes, like working memory (Peelle, Troiani, Grossman, & Wingfield, 2011). Recent research suggests the possibility of a shared etiological pathway responsible for both hearing loss and dementia (Gallacher et al., 2012)

These results suggest that successful treatment of hearing loss in adults can minimize the risk of dementia.

If you suspect a hearing loss, please click on this link to schedule a free consultation.

Park County Audiology

Park County Audiology