One of the main impacts of hearing loss is on the individual’s ability to communicate with others.
The impact of hearing loss.
Hearing loss is not only frustrating for those who have it, but also for their loved ones. Recent research has revealed however, that it also is linked with walking problems, falls and even dementia.
In a study that followed 639 adults for nearly 12 years, experts at Johns Hopkins found that mild hearing loss doubled the risk to develop dementia. A moderate loss tripled the risk, and people with a severe hearing impairment were five times more likely to develop dementia.
Brain scans confirm that hearing loss may contribute to a faster rate of atrophy in the brain. It also contributes to social isolation, as you may not want to be with people as much, and do not want to engage in conversation as often. These factors may contribute to dementia.
Regarding hearing loss and falls: when you walk, your ears pick up subtle cues that help with balance. Hearing loss mutes these important signals. It also makes your brain work harder just to process sound. This subconscious multitasking may interfere with some of the mental processing needed to walk safely.
Can hearing aids reduce these risks? Research is still ongoing, but what experts do know is that there’s no downside to using hearing aids. They help most people who try them. And in those people, they can make all the difference in the world—allowing them to reengage with friends and family and to be more involved again.
Unfortunately hearing aid users wait, on average, 10 years before getting help for hearing loss. During that time, communication with loved ones becomes more difficult, and isolation and health risks increase.
It’s normal to feel worried that hearing loss means you’re aging—and to want to hide it. The truth: connecting with others can help your brain stay younger and keep you involved with life.
Isn’t it time to take the first step by contacting a hearing health care professional in your area?