Research links hearing loss to dementia, free consultations

ST. GEORGE — People often ask why untreated hearing loss matters. They wonder why someone should wear hearing aids all day if they can “get by” without them or why they need them if they don’t socialize.

“My neighbor once told me,” Kimball Forbes, owner of Advanced Hearing and Balance Specialists, said, “when she turned 60 ‘the floodgates opened,’ and her mailbox was filled with ads for hearing aids that she did not really need because she felt her hearing was fine.”

The answers are not always simple and resistance to use of hearing aids is common. Sometimes it takes a son or daughter to get their parent assessed for hearing decline and to use helps that will not only enable them to stay engaged socially but can help stem memory loss as well.

In recent years, medical journals are addressing questions about hearing loss and hearing aids with increasing frequency – and studies are linking hearing loss to dementia.

In 2011, the Journal of the American Medical Association Neurology published an article directly linking untreated hearing loss to higher incidents of dementia and Alzheimer’s. This article received a lot of acclaim as it seemed to be something new to the community; however, audiologists have known for years about auditory deprivation and the reason behind the increase in dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Auditory deprivation occurs when hearing nerves are deprived of sound, which leads to their eventual weakening. The weakening of the nerves to the brain slowly causes a decline in functioning in the hearing centers of the brain. When those parts of the brain are underutilized a person struggles not only to hear speech, but to understand it. In other words “you use it or you lose it.”

The JAMA-Neurology article states: “Hearing loss is independently associated with all-cause dementia. More than one-third of the risk of incident all-cause dementia was associated with hearing loss.”

The most common cause of auditory deprivation — a person who chooses not to wear hearing aids if they have hearing loss — can be prevented simply by wearing the aids instead of hiding them in a drawer. This simple practice will help to keep the nerves and hearing centers of the brain active and properly functioning and helps reduce the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s.

If you believe you have hearing loss, or haven’t been properly treated for your hearing loss, feel free to consult a trusted audiologist. If you are prescribed hearing aids, you’ll do yourself a favor by wearing them regularly even if you think you’re “just fine.”

Advanced Hearing and Balance Specialists offers free hearing or balance consultations with specialized audiologists, located at the Coral Desert Health Center, 1490 East Foremaster Dr., Suite 360 in St. George.

These free consultations are used as preventative measures for more than just hearing, they can help stem memory loss and associated dementia.



  • Advanced Hearing and Balance Specialists | Website
  • Address: 1490 E. Foremaster Dr., Suite 360, St. George
  • Telephone: 688-8866
  • Hours: Monday through Friday: 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Additional locations in Cedar City (Telephone 435-867-0714), Mesquite, Nevada (Telephone 702-346-4622), Hurricane (Telephone 435-635-3689), Beaver, Milford, Filmore, Delta, Panguitch and Overton. See Web page linked here for addresses and phone numbers.

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Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.

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  • Frank June 9, 2014 at 1:21 pm

    I’m frank I’m 89 I’ve been told I can’t hear anymore. Family is all ways complain very rude to me. First off I ignore them when they speak, none of them have anything good to talk about theses days, if your younger than seventy your the problem your all dumb …. You’ve ruined this country me and my friends fought to keep free. We used to be the very best the world had now just a bunch of free loading dumb …. Wished we wouldn’t have fought so hard now, I miss Tommy, Chuck, Lulu, Marty, Ralph, Johnny, and Chavez. Besides all us old people wanta forget a think only of the days when life was better, it not that we don’t know what’s going on now, we just don’t want to believe we are circled by dumb …. Dementia my butt. We can’t believe we all raised you dumb …. Any way I forgot the point I wanted to make.
    Ed. ellipses.

  • Frank June 9, 2014 at 1:39 pm

    I typed something on here earlier but I can’t remember what it was. Oh ya my hearing is perfect when they drag me to church on Sundays I can’t here a thing and that’s fine with me.

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