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Hello @cecilie Interesting post for sure.
I have read these studies on hearing loss and dementia and none of them, none of them state, as you say 'Difficulties with hearing is proven to cause dementia in many cases.' They simply do not! These studies also do not 'suggest that poor hearing is a harbinger of impending dementia'.
These studies, most dating from 2013, do not suggest anything more than a possible link between the presence of hearing decline and dementia.
Words are very powerful and can scare people unnecessarily at times. Many doctors have stated the cause of the presence of this link is unclear and may simply be more related to the fact hearing decline can cause some folks to withdraw from social interactions, become less active, and more isolated as they age.
All the millions of dollars of research and all the years of scientific study and the causes of dementia are still unknown at this time. Thankfully, though, they keep working on it!
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Isolation because of hearing loss may be a factor. That’s is a suggestion. National science… report helps pave the way for more affordability in accessing hearing care . There must be a higher incidence of Dementia type cases A factor out there with difficulties in hearing. Families/ friends makes a difference . I do not have that as many do not. We do not communicate as we should to get medical care, , and other issues in our life( mundane things like calling the roofer/ insurance agent not having patience . Despair / frustration with Increase hearing loss does not help. Not every person with hearing loss will have dementia such as not every smoker gets cancer etc.
One of the reason I passed Statistics in College is because of my ability to analyze. Look at who did the studies National science study has nothing to gain. It is helping folks in Hearing loss association and others to push forth the idea that hearing aids should be more covered in Medicare and other insurance
Case in point….dementia – Alzheimer's and related mental health diseases are genetic based diseases. Research is looking at all of the various conduits that may or may not contribute, add to or be party to this disease. By chance on one of the studies a few years back, it was noticed that those subjects (counted people – double blind) being studied, a common factor stood out. This factor was that most of these people were hard of hearing or had some degree of hearing loss. The researchers were blind-sided by this fact since they were not even looking for any common threads between the people but what was going on in their brain. This opened up a lot of eyes to the fact that that the elephant was actually sitting in the room with them. They just didn't see it with their magnifying scope or petri dishes. Those who were interested – posed questions of what actually happens to the brain/inner ear/ when it is not stimulated with sound and processing it to actually looking for answers that we find ourselves where we are today.
There are many frontiers about the brain that are not yet discovered including how to stop hearing loss, what is tinnitus, where is tinnitus located and how can we stop it, and a bounty of other complex questions that are yet to be defined and answered.
The many institutions and bodies of foundations that are pouring research into this field of study are putting out their ideas/thoughts to tell us what they know right now. But understand, our brain is so much more than all of the computers in the world. Think about what it can do and how it does it. Taking care of it requires a lot of work since our senses, our cognition, and our being are all caught up in this one organ.
I know why I have the first stage of organic brain syndrome. I was born without hearing much. Nothing was done about it….because no one knew. No testing was done until I was 50 years old. By that time, my brain was atrophied and had had experienced many assaults (3 MVAs, sepsis, Viral meningitis, etc). By the time I was diagnosed and given hearing aids, my brain didn't know how to respond and revolted. Migraine headaches were the mild responses as were the ongoing vertigo, hypercus, aneurysms, and other related brain symptoms. Management of the years has taken me through times to denial, hate, lashing out, withdrawal, anxiety, reaching out, education, advocacy, multiple tests, neuroscience specialists, audiologist, support groups, and other sources of information that have allowed me to grow and understand. My father also shared the DX of dementia when he died 5 years ago from prostate CA. A WWII vet – he was in the Pacific and was exposed to Hiroshima and Nagasaki – so carried that all his life. A sad ending to his life of 88 years. My life is not like his. Mine is because I was never given the opportunity to hear from the beginning of life. I didn't understand speech – it was mostly a silent world for me – and I was always wondering why.
I am not here to argue, but I do believe it is important to be cautious and careful when stating things as fact here for others.
Only one, very rare form of dementia, Familial Alzheimer's disease (FAD), is genetic. All other forms of dementia have not been proven to be genetic.
Peace and I hope everyone is getting ready for a wonderful 4th of July!
When these studies came out it put fear in the hearts and minds of many hard of hearing people, especially those with adult onset hearing loss, meaning post language acquisition. Many in that population are not elderly when their hearing loss is diagnosed. Hearing loss is more common in the elderly population, but it's important to understand it affects people of all ages. I was diagnosed in my early 20s. As my hearing loss progressed I became isolated, bitter and depressed. I felt totally 'out of it' with my social peers. I had always been an active socially outgoing person, but that started to change as my hearing loss progressed. It was embarrassing to make mistakes in conversation, and to be told I was misunderstanding things. That is what leads to isolation. It's easier to stop socializing than to feel chronically stressed with fear of looking stupid!
I resisted getting hearing help because my doctors had told me that hearing aids wouldn't help me. I felt hopeless until I became driven, in my 30s, to seek hearing help. That first hearing aid did help, but the stigma attached to using it embarrassed me. It took quite a while before I was comfortable enough to talk about it with others. Learning about the new organization Self Help for Hard of Hearing People, Inc. (SHHH) in 1984 changed my thinking, my perceptions and my life. (SHHH is now HLAA, The Hearing Loss Assn. of America, Inc.) Because of this organization, I learned coping strategies. I learned about technology that could double the value of my hearing aid. I met other people like me. And, I accepted the reality that if I wanted to remain in the intellectual company of other people, I needed to use every possible piece of technology available to me. And, I have over all these years. Today it's being bimodal with both a hearing aid and a cochlear implant, AND using all the devices that work with my HA and CI, that connect with both telecoil and BlueTooth. Amazing stuff that far too many people with hearing loss don't even know exists. For example, I had stopped going to performing arts and theater for years, until these technologies became available. Now I look forward to enjoying them.
So, what does this have to do with hearing loss leading to dementia? I believe that hearing loss can mimic dementia in some cases. I also believe that when hearing loss goes untreated it leads to a state of inertia that most likely affects the brain. When you don't use it, you may lose it. When you don't keep up with current events and social activities you become isolated in many ways. How people react to the difficult issues of hearing loss is affected by many variables. Intellect, personality, experience, motivation, special interests, and innate self esteem are all variables that may determine how hearing loss affects a person. Each one of us makes choices in these areas, but we are also influenced by who we are and who we were before hearing loss entered our lives.
I believe that hearing loss can lead to dementia/cognitive decline if it goes ignored and untreated. We all know that many people who have hearing loss do not take steps to get hearing help for legitimate reasons. Stigma that leads to denial is huge. I have never seen an advertisement about hearing instruments that doesn't market denial. They all stress invisibility, as in 'no one will know you're wearing it'. Doesn't that promote the stigma that prevents many from seeking help? The other big factor is cost. It's a travesty that hearing aids are not covered by insurance and Medicare. It's also amazing that the cost has not gone down. I guess that if all the people who could benefit from hearing aids bought them, the cost would go down considerably
With all the research that's going on, there is no question that when hearing loss is untreated it leads to more serious issues. Not just dementia, but to unemployment, anger, and frustration; all of which can lead to anti social behavior that may lead to other societal issues. It's way past time to recognize that hearing loss is treatable, and that when not treated it often leads to issues that are troublesome. UNTREATED is a key word here.
It’s tough out there- and you are helping others. There are many types of Dementia- not just genetics ? A lot are that I know but not all?
@bookysue All these studies are giving us food for thought but we have to remember as we age we start to deteriorate our bodies start to shrink our brains start to get clogged by placque and just old age . There are many dementia,s out there the worst is Alzheimers but it is what it is. Don't worry about it or you will cause yourself to get in a state of chaos . A lot of things affect our tiring brain. If we eat the right foods and exercise that is the most important for our bodies and brain . There are a lot of brain games to keep our gray cells alive we just have to do this. Look at that women 103 years old who just ran the senior Olympics in New Mexico .
Least of my worries. I am a reader, do word / solitaire games. I am more social then I would be because of the slight concern. I eat better. Biking and walking/ mini exercises in house I do what I can. I have slot on my plate- Medicare issues and crooked mortgage company – bummer Thanks
@bookysue Glad to hear it so many older people just don't at least not where I live . But its so important . All studies are good information but just that but some people take them literally
We take the information out there and learn from it . We do not let fear overcomes us – we have to remember; folks are living longer and we see more issues that concerns us. A lot of folks use the information to learn and to overcome/ combat- turn a deaf so to speak and do more than expected
. I fight everyday to get started even though I feel better once I do. Being a depressed deefie ( family history of depression in two generations on both sides) does not help. I have health issues in spite of being active nonsmoker . If I was not active: it would be worse. Cancer once already because of my family being heavy duty smokers( past) and every two person smokes where I live ( crazy) . I am still a wandering Sue ; road trips on my own. Scary time this past Sunday ; stuck on a mountain road late at night. Triple A was patient with me on the phone. It was hard . Got home at 4 am. It will not deter me. I love wandering . Fear will not succeed. It does I. Other aspects of my life though. A true mixed bag here- a true Gemini
@bookysue Sounds like you have your head on your shoulders no
pun in ended Good for you I love road trips did alot before I got married
Some say not- thanks. I tried as we should all do- as long as we try we are beyond as expected- we limit ourselves more then we should. I use caution as I should because I am falling more. So it is harder to have that attitude but I am trying to balance things . Life has to be worth it.
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