The Hidden Correlation Between Hearing Loss and Cognitive Decline: A Deep Dive by South Shore Hearing Center

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Addressing hearing loss in a timely manner can offer significant benefits, including potentially slowing or halting cognitive decline.

As we age, changes in our bodily functions become a normal part of life. One such change is the potential for hearing loss, a common affliction among the elderly.

However, the impacts of hearing loss extend beyond simply diminished hearing capabilities; it can also have far-reaching implications for cognitive health when left untreated.

Numerous studies have shown a significant link between untreated hearing loss and cognitive decline, underscoring the urgent need for prompt and effective treatment of hearing loss.

South Shore Hearing Center, the most trusted hearing health experts in South Shore and Southeast Massachusetts, is acutely aware of this complex connection between auditory health and cognitive well-being. As such, we incorporate this understanding into our comprehensive approach to patient care.

A Closer Look at Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is a pervasive health concern, particularly among the older population, and is more common than most people realize. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders reports that approximately one in three people in the United States between the ages of 65 and 74 have hearing loss, a number that increases to nearly half for those aged over 75.

Despite the prevalence of this health issue, only around 20 percent of those who could benefit from treatment for hearing loss actually seek help. This reluctance, coupled with the proven link between untreated hearing loss and cognitive decline, poses a significant, often overlooked, threat to cognitive health.

Hearing Evaluation

Understanding Cognitive Decline

Cognitive decline refers to the slow deterioration of cognitive abilities, encompassing memory, attention, and thinking skills. In severe cases, this can lead to conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia, significantly impacting an individual’s quality of life.

Several theories propose explanations for the connection between untreated hearing loss and cognitive decline. One prevalent theory is that the cognitive overload caused by the strain of dealing with hearing loss can lead to a decline in other cognitive functions. Moreover, hearing loss can lead to social isolation—a known risk factor for cognitive decline.

The Science Supporting the Link

Multiple studies back the connection between hearing loss and cognitive decline. One influential study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that cognitive abilities declined 30–40 percent faster in individuals with hearing loss compared to those without.

Likewise, a study published in JAMA Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery involving nearly 2,000 older adults with hearing loss found they had a 24 percent higher risk for cognitive decline compared to those without hearing loss.

Addressing Hearing Loss: A Way Forward

Addressing hearing loss in a timely manner can offer significant benefits, including potentially slowing or halting cognitive decline. Hearing aids, the standard treatment for hearing loss, can alleviate the cognitive overload by reducing the effort needed to understand speech, thereby freeing up cognitive resources for other tasks.

Improved hearing also often leads to increased social interaction, which can counteract the detrimental effects of social isolation on mental health.

South Shore Hearing Center: Committed to Your Hearing Health

You don’t have to navigate the complexities of hearing loss alone. South Shore Hearing Center is here to walk with you on your journey toward better hearing and cognitive health.

We’re committed to delivering compassionate and comprehensive care that acknowledges the crucial connection between your hearing and cognitive health.

South Weymouth: (781) 337-6860
Hanover: (781) 826-4711

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Jennifer G. Mayer, Au.D., CCC-A

Dr. Jennifer G. Mayer purchased South Shore Hearing Center in January 2016. She was born and raised in Swampscott, MA. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in speech and hearing in 1996 from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and her Master’s degree in audiology from the Northeastern University in 1998. Dr. Mayer fulfilled her Clinical Fellowship Year (CFY) in 1999 at Hear USA and Cape Cod Ear, Nose and Throat. Following her CFY, Dr. Mayer was a staff audiologist in various clinical settings, including Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. She joined the South Shore Hearing Center staff in 2006. Dr. Mayer obtained her Doctor of Audiology (Au.D.) degree from the A.T. Still University, Arizona School of Health Sciences in 2008. Dr. Mayer’s specialties are diagnostic audiology, pediatric and adult amplification and educational audiology. Dr. Mayer is a fellow of the American Academy of Audiology. She is licensed by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in Audiology and certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

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