Press Release

The Hearing Loss / Dementia Connection


San Antonio, Texas – October 21, 2014 – Although many people associate hearing loss with just a normal part of aging, recent findings from a series of studies suggest a direct correlation between the degree of hearing loss experienced, and a significant risk in developing dementia. These significant findings represent ten years of data collected and analyzed by Dr. Frank Lin, an otologist and epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins University, who researched the link between aging, hearing loss, and cognitive decline in dementia. His research reveals that increasing degrees of hearing loss are associated with increased risk for dementia, by two-to-five times. If you consider that approximately two-thirds of the population over 70 years of age has hearing loss, but only about 15% receive treatment for it, the number of persons at risk for developing dementia is staggering. Erin Leshikar, Au.D., CCC-A, Doctor of Audiology at Spectrum Audiology in Austin, Texas concurs, “The risk of developing dementia is proportional to the amount of hearing loss present. The greater the severity of hearing loss, the higher the risk of developing dementia.”

Hearing loss affects almost 34 million Americans, and while this number is comprised mostly of elderly persons, hearing loss is also emerging in younger populations and baby boomers. Given the risk factors, it’s important that all persons age 55 and older have their hearing checked regularly. If a hearing test reveals a deficit, it is imperative that the individual also test the use of a hearing aid. Leshikar cautions, “untreated, hearing loss can cause ‘effortful listening’, which can lead to social isolation and loneliness, as well as the subsequent stress.” Leshikar’s observations support Lin’s belief that, “social isolation caused by hearing loss, in addition to any underlying brain damage that may have caused both hearing loss and mental decline, may explain the findings [of the hearing loss dementia connection].”

Treating Hearing Loss with Hearing Aids

Small yet powerful, hearing aids are dynamic devices that have been shown to treat hearing loss by preventing and rehabilitating communication breakdowns. Although the correlation between hearing aid use and the delay in dementia progression have not been drawn yet, it is easy to see how hearing aids might play an important role in delaying this debilitating illness.

Technology Plays Important Role in Enhancing the Way We Hear

The largest demographic affected by hearing loss, seniors are generally late adopters of technology. However, research shows that trend is changing. As communication devices become more sophisticated, and thereby more user-friendly, seniors seem to be handling tech adoption with ease. An April 2014 Pew Research Center study reveals that 77% of older adults have a cell phone, which is up from 69% in April 2012. Keeping in step with this trend, industry leader Beltone™ developed the first direct-to-iPhone® hearing aid, aptly called, the Beltone First™. Using the Beltone First, patients can stream sound from an iPhone directly to their hearing aid without the use of cumbersome adapters. Beltone has made the First even more user-friendly through the use of the free Beltone HearPlus™ app, which serves as a remote control for changing hearing aid programs and volume, and locating misplaced hearing aids with the Find My Hearing Aid feature.

October is National Audiology Awareness and National Protect Your Hearing Month

To draw attention to this important medical and social issue, viewers are invited to a free hearing loss screening, by appointment, at Spectrum Audiology at 7909 Fredericksburg Rd. Suite 90 in San Antonio on select days during the month of October. In addition they are encouraged to visit our Facebook page, where they will receive essential information on hearing loss, including tips for motivating a loved-one to get tested for hearing loss. For more information, or to schedule your free, professional hearing test, call 210-614-0345.

  • Kathy Roberts
  • 2147 NW Military Hwy
  • San Antonio, TX 78213
  • Ph: 210.643.4897