Dementia is a group of related symptoms associated with an ongoing decline of brain functioning, which can include problems with memory loss, thinking speed and mental sharpness and quickness.
But experiencing hearing loss could indicate an increased risk of developing dementia.
According to Alzheimer's Society, many people living with dementia will also have hearing loss.
However, although the charity explains that it is common for people to develop gradual hearing loss as they age, “people with hearing loss are also more likely to develop dementia, although at present we don’t know why this is.”
Last year, a study conducted by Professor Helene Amieva in France further established the link between hearing loss and dementia.
“The study found an increased risk of disability and dementia in those with hearing loss, and, in men only, an increased risk of depression,” explains Alzheimer's Society.
Dr Clare Walton, Research Manager at Alzheimer's Society, further expands on this, adding, “This study adds to a growing body of research suggesting that hearing loss is a risk factor for dementia.”
Alongside hearing loss, the NHS notes that there are also other problems associated with dementia, including:
- memory loss
- thinking speed
- mental sharpness and quickness
- difficulties carrying out daily activities
Living with dementia and hearing loss
Alzheimer's Society explains that “living with both conditions is more difficult than living with either on its own.
“Both dementia and hearing loss can have an impact on how someone copes day to day – for example, making it harder to communicate.
“They can also both lead to increased social isolation, loss of independence, and problems with everyday activities, and as a result make the person’s dementia seem worse.”
However, Alzheimer's Society notes that there are things that can help those living with hearing loss and dementia, including:
- Having regular hearing checks and making the most of the hearing the person does have – for example, by using hearing aids.
- Improving the environment, for example by reducing background noise and distractions and making sure the area is well lit.
- Finding out the person’s preferred way of communicating – for example, lip reading.
- Using gestures and expressions, and letting people see your face when communicating.
- Using visual clues and prompts.