Hearing and dementia

Dealing with hearing loss can cause the brain to work over time. If you’re straining to hear someone or reading peoples’ lips as they speak, you’ll be working extra hard to keep up with the conversation, compared to someone with minimal or no hearing loss. This can lead to social interactions being more difficult.

 

Recent research suggests hearing loss is linked to social isolation and feelings of loneliness. And, this, combined with using extra brain power could increase the chance of developing dementia. 

 

We believe hearing loss needn’t prevent you from spending time with loved ones. And, by taking care of your hearing health you can reduce your risk of developing dementia. 
 

Can hearing loss cause dementia? 

The leading research into whether hearing loss leads to dementia suggests that hearing loss does lead to an altered brain structure in the auditory cortex, which is said to decrease resilience to dementia’. However, there is no evidence to suggest that hearing loss is the direct cause of dementia.

 

The general understanding is that hearing loss leads to cognitive overload, causing the person to experience confusion and memory loss. It is reported that some people notice memory loss before they realise they have hearing difficulties.

 

Are hearing loss and dementia related? 

Yes. Though hearing loss isn’t the cause of dementia, having hearing problems increases your risk of developing dementia. Those with moderate to severe hearing loss are 5 times more likely to develop dementia, than those with no hearing difficulties. To reduce the risks of hearing loss and dementia, it is important to treat even mild hearing difficulties. 

The Alzhemier’s Society suggests the following ways to support someone with hearing loss and dementia: 

  • Ensuring regular hearing health checks. 

  • Wearing hearing aids and treating the hearing loss as directed by an audiologist.

  • Learning to communicate with visual cues, prompts, gestures and expressions.

 

If you’re worried about your hearing or memory, contact your healthcare provider and ask to see a GP or to be referred to an audiologist.

This hearing hub is intended to be purely informational. If you have any kinds of concerns about your hearing, we recommend speaking to a doctor or audiologist.