The Asbury Perspective - A blog devoted to the topics important to older adults.


Useful Resources.

Recent Contributors

Hearing Loss & Brain Health

Jane Gibson, RN
Posted by
Jane Gibson, RN
seniors and hearing loss

For centuries, hearing loss has been viewed as a troublesome but not particularly troubling condition by the general public. But new research linking hearing loss to a an increased risk for cognitive declines and even dementia should move addressing this issue straight to the top of our to-do list.

Hearing loss is a fact of life for two-thirds of people over 70 years of age, and for those over 85, that number jumps to 80 percent. Another stark statistic, people wait an average of seven years after diagnosis to seek treatment.

During those years, our brain is overloaded as it struggles to decode what is being said, says Jane Gibson, R.N., Director of Operations at Springhill Senior Living in Erie, Pa. As a result, it may not be able to do some of the other work it is supposed to be doing.

Just as serious is the social isolation that often results, she points out. Those with hearing loss find it difficult to engage in conversations, and can come away feeling frustrated or even embarrassed if they misread or missed a social cue. Over time, they may choose to avoid social situations altogether. This, in turn, can lead to depression.

Level of deficit linked to level of risk

Several research studies, including one conducted in 2013 by Johns Hopkins University, bear Gibson out. The Johns Hopkins study looked at 2,000 adults with an average age of 77, charting cognitive abilities that included  memory and planning skills and concentration. At the end of six years, those who began the study with hearing loss that was severe enough to make conversation difficult were 24 percent more likely than those with normal hearing to have cognitive declines. According to the research team, hearing loss seemed to speed up age-related cognitive decline, and the more severe the loss, the greater the risk that this process would occur. Researchers are quick to point out that just showing an increased risk of developing dementia does not mean that every person will. 

Broaching a difficult topic

If you suspect someone you love has hearing loss but has not sought treatment or a hearing test, approach them with honesty and compassion, says Gibson:  “This is a very emotional issue. Tell them that you’re noticing the television turned up loud or provide a few specific examples of when they misunderstood or missed what you were saying."

Urge them to make an appointment with their primary care physician for a check-up and a referral to an audiologist. “It may not be what you think,” she notes. “It could be as simple as wax build-up in the ear.” Be sure to meet with an approved audiologist who can evaluate you for the most appropriate hearing aids for your particular need rather than someone who sells amplified receivers, she adds.

Likewise, Gibson says, if you know someone who is showing cognitive declines, be sure they have had their hearing checked.

The most important thing is to open a conversation and stick with it. “Research has found that someone who has mild hearing loss may be at two times the risk for developing dementia,” Gibson says. “If you have moderate, three times and severe, five times the risk. So that’s pretty high.”

What Can You Do to Help Someone With Hearing Loss?

Cathy Richards, director of wellness at Asbury Methodist Village in Gaithersburg, Md., prepared these tips for residents during a recent series on hearing loss and your health.

  1. Reduce background noise. Turn off the TV or move away from machinery like a dishwasher or washing machine. Lean in and create a quieter environment.
  2. Look at the person you’re talking to. Do not begin talking while coming up from behind the person or while walking away.
  3. Speak in a slow, clear and strong (but not shouting) voice. Turning up the volume is not always the answer. Sometimes, hearing loss means not being able to hear words clearly.
  4. Try to keep conversations in social situations to one speaker at a time.
  5. Understand that hearing loss is a handicap that can change how a person view's himself and provide emotional support for this change in identity.
Jane Gibson, RN

Submitted by Jane Gibson, RN

Jane Gibson is the director of operations for Springhill Senior Living, a continuing care retirement community in Erie, Pa., that is part of the Asbury system.

Related Entries

Share This

  • E-mail
  • Facebook
  • Twitter

Leave a comment

Remember my personal information

Notify me of follow-up comments?

Comments for this post

Amy Wilim

I read your excellent post. After reading this post, i really appreciate your effort and my request is to please share us more post in future. Keep it up.
dubai desert safari


Great one! <a >nutrinoid</a>

ibps clerk admit card 2017

IBPS Clerk Admit Card 2017 CWE VII Prelims: This is now www. 2017 Clerk Hall Ticket which is to be downloaded.

ibps clerk admit card 2017

SPSS Online help

only professional writers SPSS Online help can make this kind of material, cheers

Programming Project Help

I appreciate this work Programming Project Help amazing post for us I like it.

alvina ash

In the occasion hearing the clamors to the tumults, regardless of whether continually or spasmodically, you ought to search for treatment rapidly. UK Expositions Regardless, lamentably, normal solutions simply treat the reactions of tinnitus and may give fleeting easing, most ideal situation.
dissertation writing help

steve larsc

Hearing issues is one of the most common health problems come with old age. But most of us are not aware of the relation of this with the increased risk for cognitive declines and even optilingo dementia. Thanks for explaining the same.


I have never thought about the issue so seriously. It is quite shocking to hear that the hearing loss is very closely related to the brain health. I think we should make proper checkups if we are facing difficulties in hearing. Thanks for the valuable information. basketball teams long island

Infinite Wellness

Did you know that chiropractic care can help tremendously with brain health (and thus, hearing loss?) Check out our website to learn more:

tubemate for iphone

tubemate for iphone

Best FPS and RTS Gaming Mouse

Best FPS and RTS Gaming Mouse

Happy New Year 2018 Dp

Happy New Year 2018 Dp is soon going to knock our doors. It is one of the best occasion and celebration of life

Amazon Kindle customer service

Amazon Kindle customer service Amazon Kindle customer service

norton 360 setup

norton 360 setup norton 360 setup


great information - thanks for sharing! -

<a href="">iphone 8

iPhone 8 Release Date Price Specs - All You Need To Know iphone 8 apple


Loss of hearing is a very serious issue and I think elder people suffer from such disorders. The treatments for such disorders are not giving enough guarantees. So we should be careful to diagnose the chance of such diseases. Keep updating! new manufactured homes

rafael oliveira

Congratulations,excellent article

“mau halito”


This is my first time i visit here and I found so many interesting stuff in your blog especially it’s discussion, thank you.gula kelapa


google great

View All Contributors