Cognitive Decline In Senior Citizens Linked To Hearing Loss, Dementia

Cognitive decline in senior citizens is linked to hearing loss and dementia, a new study reports. Early intervention may reverse some of the decline and improve the quality of life. Researchers at Harvard University and Brigham and Women’s Hospital were the lead investigators on this study. 
These scientists analyzed eight years of data of 10,000 senior citizens and found that hearing loss leads to a higher risk for dementia. There is also a direct correlation between the size of the risk to the severity of the hearing loss. For example, in seniors with mild hearing loss, decline in memory and thinking was 30%. But, in senior citizens with moderate to severe hearing loss, memory loss and cognitive decline jumped to 54% higher.

cognitive decline

Cognitive Decline: Study Results

Data results showed that:

  • Seniors with mild hearing loss had a 30 percent higher risk of subsequent loss in memory and thinking.
  • Those with moderate hearing loss showed a 42 percent higher risk.
  • Seniors who reported severe hearing loss, showed showed a 54 percent higher risk.


Subjective cognitive specifically refers to a decline in memory and thinking that is, at first, only noticed by the person themselves. Such changes can be an early indication of a decline that objective performance tests don’t pick up on.

According to these researchers, hearing loss can be an early marker indicating the beginnings of memory and thinking loss, eventually leading to dementia.


They conclude that these hearing tests may help identify individuals at greater risk for cognitive decline. Early intervention may reverse or halt the decline and improve long term quality of life.

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