A number of studies have come to light over the last few years showing a link between hearing loss and dementia. Specifically, a pair of studies out of Johns Hopkins found that hearing loss is associated with accelerated cognitive decline in older adults and that seniors with hearing loss are significantly more likely to develop dementia over time than those who retain their hearing.
A third Johns Hopkins study revealed a link between hearing loss and accelerated brain tissue loss. The researchers found that for older adults with hearing loss, brain tissue loss happens faster than it does for those with normal hearing.
How Hearing Loss Affects Cognitive Function
Our ears and auditory system bring sound to the brain. But we actually “hear” with our brain, not with our ears. According to Wingfield, unaddressed hearing loss not only affects the listener’s ability to perceive sound accurately, it also affects higher-level cognitive function. Specifically, it interferes with the listener’s ability to accurately process the auditory information and make sense of it.