Hearing loss is so common among the older population of America that it has become a commonly accepted comedic trope in film nowadays. Many older men turn off their hearing aids to avoid nagging older wives; older people do not hear the words of their roguish grandchildren and must shout for repetition; people mis-hear directions and end up in the precisely wrong place.
Hearing loss is not always humorous for those who suffer from it, however. It can seriously endanger your life in many ways. In fact, Katherine Griffin and Katherine Bouton, writing for AARP, note that the Hearing Loss Association of Americamaintains that hearing loss may increase risk of cognitive problems and dementia.
Dementia is a condition that is becoming more prevalent as the American population ages (20% of the American population will be over the age of 65 by 2050). Dementia is a general health term. It means that cognitive function (the ability to think, remember, regulate social behavior, etc.) has declined significantly enough to affect everyday life. It is not, in and of itself, a disease, but rather a symptom of diseases such as Alzheimer's.
Frank Lin at Johns Hopkins University states that there is a link between hearing loss and dementia. Studies show that adults with normal hearing had three times less risk of experiencing cognitive issues than those with moderate (in other words, less-than-normal) hearing. For those of us who have long considered hearing loss to be a sign of aging and not a sign of other serious complications, this may come as a shock.
"aggressively treating and curing hearing loss may actually help fight against dementia and its causes."
The good news is this: if hearing loss worsens the incidence and severity of dementia, then aggressively treating and curing hearing loss may actually help fight against dementia and its causes.
Here is what to do with this information:
Alzheimer's.org. (website). What Is Dementia? Available at http://www.alz.org/what-is-dementia.asp. Retrieved 1/11/2016.
Griffin, K., & Bouton, K. (April 2015). Hearing Loss Linked to Dementia. AARP.org, http://www.aarp.org/health/brain-health/info-07-2013/hearing-loss-linked-to-dementia.html. Retrieved 1/11/2016.
HopkinsMedicine.org. (January 22, 2014). Hearing Loss Linked to Accelerated Brain Tissue Loss. Johns Hopkins Medicine. News and Publications. Available at http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/media/releases/hearing_loss_linked_to_accelerated_brain_tissue_loss_. Retrieved 1/11/2016.
Mayo Clinic. Hearing Loss: Symptoms. Available at http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hearing-loss/basics/symptoms/con-20027684. Retrieved 1/11/2016.
Hearing Loss Association of America. Prevention of Hearing Loss. Available at http://hearingloss.org/content/prevention-hearing-loss. Retrieved 1/11/2016.