People my age often worry about losing their keys or having trouble recalling the name of an old film.
But those minor memory lapses are rarely cause for concern.
However, new research shows there’s one common sign of aging you SHOULD pay attention to as you get older…because it could signal the onset of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) or dementia.
So, without further ado, let’s put our minds to it…
Hearing loss is a “loud” indicator
When someone develops AD or dementia, it affects more than just their memory. It affects how they process all kinds of information…including sensory information.
For example, as I recently reported, experiencing a reduced sense of smell could be one of the earliest, clearest signs of dementia.
And now—new research shows a strong link to another one of your five senses…
Your sense of hearing.
In fact, according to a 2020 report from the Lancet Commission on Dementia Prevention and Care, hearing loss is the single, largest, modifiable risk factor for dementia. Which means preventing and treating hearing loss is even more important than diet or exercise when it comes to developing this devastating brain disease!
Of course, we’re still trying to figure out exactly how hearing loss may signal—or even cause—dementia. But Dr. Timothy Griffiths, a professor of cognitive neurology at Newcastle University in the U.K., has a few ideas…
1.) Poor blood flow may play a role. According to Dr. Griffiths, vascular dementia, which is caused by inadequate blood flow to the brain, can also restrict blood flow to the inner ear. In other words, poor blood flow can cause BOTH dementia and hearing loss. Therefore, by correcting poor blood flow—or preventing it altogether—you may decrease your risk of developing both.
2.) “When you don’t use it, you lose it.” We also know that detecting and processing auditory signals stimulates the brain. But when you experience hearing loss, there is decreased activity in key regions of the brain involved in cognitive processes. This decrease can lead to brain atrophy, raising your risk for dementia.
3.) Hearing loss overtaxes your brain. Many studies suggest that it takes more “brain power,” or conscious effort, to listen under difficult conditions. In fact, this mechanism may explain why we tend to turn down the radio when we’re driving and trying to concentrate.
But when you have hearing loss, you must constantly exert extra effort to hear and process information. That increased exertion takes away from the cognitive capacity you could have devoted to other activities.
Plus, Dr. Griffiths thinks that kind of “robbing from Peter to pay Paul” increases stress on the brain. And it may even trigger the disease process that causes dementia.
4.) Hearing loss often affects social life. Hearing loss can also make it more difficult to socialize (even without pandemic restrictions). And social isolation raises dementia risk by a staggering 50 percent.
So, now that we know about the connection between hearing loss and dementia, let’s talk about what you can do to combat it…
Tips for combatting hearing loss and protecting your memory
According to a 2021 review, some evidence suggests that using hearing aids may protect people with hearing loss and mild cognitive impairment from experiencing further declines.
But the findings weren’t consistent.
That’s why it’s important to take steps to AVOID hearing loss as you get older. For example, you can:
- Keep the volume in your car, at home, and on devices at reasonable levels.
- Use earplugs in loud environments.
- Keep moving by engaging in 140 to 150 minutes of light-to-moderate exercise each week. (This will help support healthy blood flow throughout your body…and to your ears.)
- Stay socially connected. (Better social engagement is one of the key factors for healthy aging and longevity, anyway!)
- Follow a healthy Mediterranean-type diet, which includes full-fat dairy (including butter, eggs, cheeses, and plain yogurt), wild-caught fish and seafood, grass-fed and -finished meat, nuts, seeds, fresh produce, and alcohol (in moderation). This type of balanced, whole food diet supports health for your brain and inner ear by supplying key vitamins and minerals.
- Ask your doctor to regularly assess your hearing. (Some health practitioners already do this.)
Of course, even if you do show signs of hearing loss, it’s no guarantee you’re going to develop memory problems. Especially because there are many drug-free, cutting-edge approaches to protecting and restoring brain health—and fighting dementia and AD—as I outline in my Complete Alzheimer’s Fighting Protocol. Learn more about this comprehensive, online learning tool, or enroll today, by clicking here now!