February 26, 2021 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

The Link Between Hearing Loss and Dementia

Dr. Melissa Alexander helping patients minimize effects of hearing loss

The ability to hear can have a significant impact on all aspects of life, from someone’s emotional and physical well-being to their professional career and activities they enjoy outside of work. Despite research proving the link between untreated hearing loss and increased risks of falls, depression, anxiety, hospitalization and dementia, millions of people let their hearing loss go untreated. 

According to Dr. Melissa Alexander, an audiologist based in Santa Monica, “Twenty-five years ago a case-control study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association first reported that hearing impairment in older adults was strongly and independently associated with the likelihood of having dementia- raising the intriguing hypothesis that age-related hearing impairment may contribute to dementia risk.”

Dr. Melissa Alexander

Alexander added that over the last four years, growing epidemiologic and clinical research studies have bolstered that theory. “Longitudinal studies of community-dwelling older adults have demonstrated that hearing impairment is independently associated with a 30-40% rate of accelerated cognitive decline,” Alexander explained. Compared to individuals with normal hearing, individuals with varying levels of hearing impairment had an increased risk of incident in dementia over 10 years of follow-up. Alexander continued, “Neuroimaging studies have also demonstrated that individuals with untreated hearing loss have reduced neuron volumes in the auditory cortex, responsible for speech processing and understanding, and accelerated rates of whole brain atrophy.”

According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), failing to treat hearing loss can also have a financial impact. Alexander explained, “The University of California San Francisco, Johns Hopkins with AARP, and Optum Labs also ran this study. They looked at data from 77,000 to 150,000 patients over the age of 50 who had untreated hearing loss. People with normal hearing created 26 percent less health care costs compared to people who were recently diagnosed with hearing loss.” 

Alexander continued, “That number continues to increase over time. After a decade, healthcare expenses increase by 46 percent. Those numbers, when broken down, average $22,434 per person.” Factors associated with the increase include dementia, decline of cognitive ability, depression, lower quality of life, and falls. 

Alexander also added that a second companion study done by Bloomberg School suggests a link between untreated hearing loss and higher morbidity. Through the study, it was revealed that people with untreated hearing loss had 3.2 more diagnoses of dementia per 100 over the course of 10 years, 6.9 more diagnoses of depression, and 3.6 more falls. 

And hearing loss continues to rise. According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, hearing loss is prevalent in 55 to 64 year olds at a rate of 8.5 percent and approximately 2 percent of individuals 45 to 54 are significantly deaf. Alexander continued, “The number rises to 25 percent for individuals aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent for anybody above the age of 74. Those numbers are predicted to rise in the future. As many as 38 million people in this country could have hearing loss by the year 2060.”

Photos: Courtesy.
Located in the hear of Santa Monica, Melissa Alexander’s Alexander Audiology offers world-class hearing care for Westside patients.

Even younger demographics experience hearing loss. About 15 percent of 18-year-olds have a hard time hearing and 2 to 3 out of 1,000 children have hearing loss. “I am now seeing younger and younger patients coming in for hearing testing, many reporting tinnitus. Noise exposure is a major problem and it is causing younger people to experience hearing loss in their teens and twenties,” Alexander explained. 

Using hearing aids can change these figures and help with some of the health issues connected with hearing loss. Alexander continued, “When I diagnose a patient with a hearing loss, I discuss with the patient how their hearing impairment affects their life. I routinely request a significant other be present to take part in the consultation, not only to obtain their feedback, but to inform them of the detrimental effects of untreated hearing loss.” 

Alexander continued, “Because hearing loss is typically insidious, it isn’t always evident to the patient how much they struggle to hear. And because hearing loss is essentially an invisible disability, it’s important that I share with the patient’s loved ones how to effectively communicate, why it’s necessary to wear hearing aids consistently and what they can realistically expect the patient to hear with their hearing aids on.”

It’s important that hearing tests occur as early as possible to provide a baseline of hearing. Alexander continued, “Because the ramifications of hearing loss are so detrimental, hearing testing should be taken seriously and performed on an annual basis. Hearing protection, such as custom earplugs, ear muffs or over the counter hearing protection should be a routine staple of every household. For even younger children, parents should make sure headphones have a limiter so that even if their child turns up the volume, the sound cannot cause damage to the ears.”

For more information about Alexander Audiology, visit alexanderaudiology.com, call (424) 738-3778, follow on Facebook and Instagram @alexanderaudiology or find them on Yelp.

in Health, News
Related Posts

Santa Monica Police Arrest Parolee for Setting Stolen Car on Fire

February 25, 2021

February 25, 2021

Alex Omar Aguirre arrested by Santa Monica Police Department By Sam Catanzaro A Santa Monica resident this week watched as...

Video: Closing Streets to Allow for More Outdoor Dining?

February 25, 2021

February 25, 2021

A drunk driver recently crashed into a Santa Monica outdoor dining area, bringing attention to a proposal that would close...

Dozens of Santa Monica Restaurants to Participate in dineL.A.

February 25, 2021

February 25, 2021

First ‘spring’ season of culinary event to begin first week in March By Kerry Slater Dozens of Santa Monica restaurants...

Video: Free LA Metro Rides Could Begin Soon

February 24, 2021

February 24, 2021

LA Metro could begin offering fare-less rides as early as next year as part of a $300+ million program. Learn...

Danny Trejo’s Tacos Coming to Santa Monica

February 24, 2021

February 24, 2021

Popular restaurant owned by legendary actor coming near Promenade By Kerry Slater Legendary actor Danny Trejo is bringing his popular...

Violent Crime Declining in Santa Monica: Santa Monica Beat – February, 22, 2021

February 22, 2021

February 22, 2021

Local news and culture in under 5 minutes. * Violent Crime Declining in Santa Monica * Santa Monica Animal Shelter...

Santa Monica Convicted Felon Indicted for Multiple Firearms Charges After Shooting into Neighbor’s Yard

February 22, 2021

February 22, 2021

Jason Walsh faces federal prison time for January 9 incident By Sam Catanzaro A Santa Monica man previously convicted for...

Westside Hotel to Homeless Shelter Sparks Debate

February 21, 2021

February 21, 2021

A proposal to convert a Westside hotel into a homeless shelter has sparked a debate. Learn more in this video...

Housing Backers Start Facing Post-Pandemic Reality

February 21, 2021

February 21, 2021

By Tom Elias, Columnist The mysterious blindness that apparently affected California’s top legislative housing advocates all through 2020 seems to...

Santa Monica Awarded Over $5 Million for Affordable Housing Production

February 21, 2021

February 21, 2021

The California Department of Housing and Community Development has announced two awards to the City of Santa Monica for future...

Asian Woman in Brentwood Verbally Assaulted in Racially Motivated Attack

February 18, 2021

February 18, 2021

While walking near the intersection of Bundy and Montana an Asian woman was verbally assaulted by a man walking his...

Video: Catalytic Converter Theft Spikes In Westside Neighborhoods

February 18, 2021

February 18, 2021

Catalytic converter theft is on the rise, what vehicles are most at risk and prevention techniques in this video brought...

Poll Reports Santa Monicans Think City is on Wrong Track

February 18, 2021

February 18, 2021

Local anti-union watchdog group Eyes on 11 releases survey results By Sam Catanzaro “The decay we feel in Santa Monica...

From Donuts to Bone Broth in Santa Monica

February 18, 2021

February 18, 2021

Alfalfa opens on Main Street in Santa Monica By Toi Creel A new restaurant has opened in Santa Monica, bringing...