Dementia & Hearing Loss Find Answers

Experts agree that a connection exists between hearing loss and an increased risk for dementia. Keep reading to learn how you can help protect yourself or a loved one.

Schedule a free hearing screening today and begin your journey to better hearing.

a couple sitting, holding hands and looking at each other
a couple sitting, holding hands and looking at each other

What’s the Link Between Alzheimer's Disease and Hearing Loss?

Multiple major studies have found a connection between hearing loss and an increased risk for dementia. Consider the findings of a 12-year study by researchers at Johns Hopkins¹:

Mild hearing loss doubled an adult’s risk of dementia
Moderate hearing loss tripled the risk
Severe hearing impairment made adults five times more likely to develop dementia

Though the exact nature of this connection is still being explored by researchers, studies suggest hearing loss may change the brain in two notable ways: brain atrophy and brain overload.

Hearing Loss & Brain Atrophy

When the parts of the brain responsible for hearing are no longer stimulated by everyday sounds, they become less active. This may lead to significant changes in the brain’s normal structure and functioning—similar to how muscles shrink when you stop exercising. These changes can be characterized as atrophy and are likely to contribute to cognitive decline.

Hearing Loss & Brain Overload

An “overwhelmed” brain represents the second link between hearing loss and Alzheimer’s. When it is difficult to hear, the brain must work overtime just to understand what words people are saying, which direction sounds are emanating from and other important auditory details. Constantly straining to hear can deplete the mental energy needed for crucial cognitive functions, such as problem solving and memory—and that can lead to further cognitive decline.

Is It Hearing Loss or Dementia?

Although hearing loss can set the stage for dementia and Alzheimer’s, it’s also important to recognize the risk of misdiagnosis. If you suspect dementia in yourself or a loved one, seek treatment from a trained medical professional.

Some of the undiagnosed hearing loss symptoms that are commonly misunderstood as dementia include:

Forgetting something that was just said
Misunderstanding a story or explanation
Acting confused about simple verbal instructions

A hearing impairment makes it difficult to listen, reply and respond to verbal cues. This can escalate feelings of confusion, isolation and paranoia—so it’s important to get your hearing checked by a professional as soon as possible.

Not sure if you’re experiencing hearing loss? Click the link below to try our free online screening.

ear anatomy sculpture

How Can Hearing Aids Help?

Although there is no cure for dementia or Alzheimer’s, experts have found that hearing aids can slow the rate of cognitive decline and improve the quality of life for people with dementia and hearing loss.² In addition, hearing aids can help to alleviate feelings of loneliness or depression that sometimes arise unexpectedly later in life.

Today’s hearing aids are available in a range of styles to suit a variety of lifestyles, ages and types of hearing loss. Click the link below to book a free appointment with a Beltone hearing care professional and begin your journey to better hearing.

More About Untreated Hearing Loss


The connection between depression and hearing loss should come as no surprise. When a formerly gregarious person is no longer able to socialize or participate in beloved activities, the mental toll can be significant and lasting. Learn how to recognize the signs of depression and how you can act in defense of your mental health.


Your sense of balance depends on the vestibular system in your inner ear. Research on falls has generally focused on visual, cognitive or motor impairments. However, growing evidence suggests that hearing loss may increase a person’s risk of falling and experiencing a serious injury.

Social Isolation

Untreated hearing loss can put a strain on many aspects of your personal life. Everything from casual interactions with strangers to your closest relationships with friends and family are likely to be affected by your inability to understand speech or distinguish between the mix of sounds in your environment.

two men sitting outside
two men sitting outside

Understanding Hearing Loss

Hearing loss—or hearing impairment—is a reduction in your ability to hear. It can happen gradually or relatively quickly. At Beltone, we want to help you understand hearing loss and find the right solution.

old couple on the beach
old couple on the beach

Types & Causes of Hearing Loss

Hearing impairment or hearing loss is a perceived reduction in your ability to hear. Your sense of hearing involves several parts of your body working together, and an issue at any point in the process can lead to a problem. Keep reading to learn more about the three types of hearing loss and the common causes.

man holding onto his ear
man holding onto his ear

What Is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is a common medical condition associated with hearing loss that is often experienced as ringing, hissing, buzzing or roaring in the ears. If you are experiencing these symptoms—intermittently or constantly—a Beltone hearing care professional can help you get relief.