Does hearing loss contribute to Dementia?

Does hearing loss contribute to Dementia?

Many researchers are interested in the risk factors for dementia. Hearing loss is potentially an important risk factor since it’s very prevalent among the elderly: 33% of people aged 65 and over suffer from it and 50% of people over the age of 75 are hearing impared. From the age of 85, 4 out of 5 people suffer from it.

Hearing loss and isolation Sandra Darbouze, an audiologist at the Institut Universitaire de Gériatrie de Montréal, points out that hearing loss makes communicating difficult and frustrating for both the person with hearing loss and their loved ones. “Hearing loss eventually interferes with overall functioning and may be mistakenly associated with intellectual deficits or mood disorders. ”

Dr. Quoc Dinh Nguyen, a geriatrician at Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal, reminds us that as we age, our senses, such as vision and hearing, become less efficient. « This deafferentation complicates socializing and interacting with the environment. » Gradually, the affected person becomes socially disengaged and isolated. Cognitive stimulation is impoverished and thus increases the risk of dementia.

High risk

In a study spanning the course of 12 years, participants with moderate hearing loss were found to be three times as likely to develop dementia compared to those without hearing loss. This incidence increased to five times for those whose hearing loss was rated severe . (1)

It has been shown that people over 65 with hearing loss develop dementia more quickly than those without hearing loss. (2)

In subjects with dementia and hearing loss, the decline is 30 to 50% faster. (3)

When experiencing hearing loss, the brain must compensate. Compensation requires more brain resources to process auditory
information, leaving little room for other functions, which can exacerbate the decline.

Acting early

It is not clear if treating hearing loss can reverse memory loss. However, treating hearing problems early saves our cognitive resources. And above all, it allows us to enjoy a rich social life by communicating easily with our loved ones.




(1) Lin FR, Yaffe K, Xia J et al. (2013) Hearing loss and cognitive decline in older adults. JAMA 1 internal medicine 173, 293-299

(2) Gurgel RK, Ward PD, Schwartz S et al. (2014) Relationship of hearing loss and dementia: a 2 prospective, population-based study. Otology & neurotology : official publication of theAmerican Otological Society, American Neurotology Society [and] European Academy of Otology and Neurotology 35, 775-781.

(3) Lin FR, Yaffe K, Xia J et al. (2013) Hearing loss and cognitive decline in older adults. JAMA 3
internal medicine 173, 293-299

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