Hearing loss is an invisible handicap and although it is more prevalent with age, individuals tend to ignore the diagnosis and treatment of it. According to a study conducted by Davis et. al (2007), individuals wait an average of 10 years or more following diagnosis of hearing loss before being fitted with hearing aids. The reason for the delay varies but untreated hearing loss can have a negative impact on the mental, emotional and social wellbeing of the individual. Hearing loss has been linked to feelings of depression, anxiety, frustration, social isolation and fatigue. Depriving the hearing nerves and the areas of the brain of stimulation can also lead to atrophy or weakening, this is called auditory deprivation.
From a study conducted by Dr. Frank Lin at Johns Hopkins University, they have found positive correlation between the degree of hearing loss and the risk of developing dementia. Individuals with mild hearing loss are twice as likely to develop dementia as those with normal hearing, those with moderate hearing loss were three times more likely, and those with severe hearing loss are five times the risk (Lin et al., 2011). The study showed that for every 10 decibels of hearing loss the risk of developing dementia increased by 20%. It has been suggested that auditory deprivation is a possible contributor to the cognitive disorder.
Whatever you don’t use, you lose. So the best thing to do is to exercise the hearing nerve and the brain through adequate stimulation.
Davis, A., Smith, P., Ferguson, M., Stephens, D., & Gianopoulos, I. (2007). Acceptability, benefit and costs of early screening for hearing disability: A study of potential screening tests and models.Health Technology Assessment, 11, 1–294. Lin, F. R., Metter, E. J., O’Brien, R. J., Resnick, S. M., Zonderman, A. B., & Ferrucci, L. (2011). Hearing loss and incident dementia. Archives of Neurology, 68, 214–220.