Even mild to moderate cases have been linked to loneliness, isolation, and a loss of independence in older adults.1 And that’s not all. Today, experts cite hearing loss as the cause of 8% of dementia cases worldwide.2

Below, we explore the relationship between hearing loss and dementia with a special focus on Alzheimer’s, but we also have some hopeful news to share. Stick around to learn what experts are saying about hearing aids and how they might protect our loved ones from cognitive decline.

Both memory and hearing loss are fairly common in older adults, but some of us may be surprised by exactly how prevalent they are when we look at the numbers.

In the United States, experts estimate that…

  • Nearly 27% of adults over 65 have some difficulty hearing3
  • More than 10% of the same age group has Alzheimer’s4
  • And more than a third of adults in their 90s have dementia5

To make matters worse, there is also evidence to suggest that Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia disproportionately affect Black and Latin American adults.5

Clearly, hearing and memory are long-term health indicators we should all be aware of as we get older — and while you’re probably familiar with both, you might not know how the two are connected.

In the United States, studies have shown that…

  • Hearing loss is more prevalent in adults who have dementia6
  • The severity of cognitive decline corresponds with the severity of hearing loss7
  • And Alzheimer’s patients with hearing loss experience faster brain health decline8

The exact reason for the connection isn’t totally clear, but The John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health shared several expert theories.

Here are some of the possible causes…

  • For individuals that are often straining to hear, the brain may be overworked. This could result in negative cognitive symptoms including memory struggles.10
  • It is normal for our brains to shrink as we age, but faster shrinkage in those with hearing loss could contribute to memory symptoms.8-10
  • Adults with hearing loss miss out on vital cognitive exercise including time spent outdoors and socializing. Both are important for memory and long-term brain health.10

The good news is that we have a growing pile of expert evidence to suggest that hearing aids reduce the risk of memory loss.

One recent study of over 2000 participants showed some very promising results. The researchers found a significantly lower risk of dementia — including Alzheimer’s disease — among patients with hearing loss who opted for hearing support.2

Another study suggests that with appropriate hearing loss management, patients could experience an 8% decrease in their risk of Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia.11

Given this data, it’s not at all surprising that experts today are recommending hearing aids as part of a holistic plan for dementia prevention, intervention, and care.12 So, if you’re concerned for yourself or someone you love, now could be the time to give them a shot.


  1. Ciorba, A., Bianchini, C., Pelucchi, S., & Pastore, A. (2012). The impact of hearing loss on the quality of life of elderly adults. Clinical interventions in aging, 7, 159–163. https://doi.org/10.2147/CIA.S26059

  2. Huang, A. R., Jiang, K., Lin, F. R., Deal, J. A., & Reed, N. S. (2023). Hearing Loss and Dementia Prevalence in Older Adults in the US. JAMA, 329(2), 171–173. https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.2022.20954

  3. Madans, J. H., Weeks, J. D., & Elgaddal, N. (2021). Hearing Difficulties Among Adults: United States, 2019. NCHS data brief, (414), 1–8.

  4. Alzheimer's Association (2023). Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures.. Retrieved September 21, 2023, from https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia

  5. Manly, J. J., Jones, R. N., Langa, K. M., Ryan, L. H., Levine, D. A., McCammon, R., Heeringa, S. G., & Weir, D. (2022). Estimating the Prevalence of Dementia and Mild Cognitive Impairment in the US: The 2016 Health and Retirement Study Harmonized Cognitive Assessment Protocol Project. JAMA neurology, 79(12), 1242–1249. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamaneurol.2022.3543

  6. Liu, C. M., & Lee, C. T. (2019). Association of Hearing Loss With Dementia. JAMA network open, 2(7), e198112. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.8112

  7. Golub, J. S., Brickman, A. M., Ciarleglio, A. J., Schupf, N., & Luchsinger, J. A. (2020). Association of Subclinical Hearing Loss With Cognitive Performance. JAMA otolaryngology-- head & neck surgery, 146(1), 57–67. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamaoto.2019.3375

  8. Llano, D. A., Kwok, S. S., Devanarayan, V., & Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) (2021). Reported Hearing Loss in Alzheimer's Disease Is Associated With Loss of Brainstem and Cerebellar Volume. Frontiers in human neuroscience, 15, 739754. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2021.739754

  9. Lin, F. R., Ferrucci, L., An, Y., Goh, J. O., Doshi, J., Metter, E. J., Davatzikos, C., Kraut, M. A., & Resnick, S. M. (2014). Association of hearing impairment with brain volume changes in older adults. NeuroImage, 90, 84–92.

  10. Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (2021, November 13). Hearing Loss and the Dementia Connection. Retrieved September 21, 2023, from https://publichealth.jhu.edu/2021/hearing-loss-and-the-dementia-connection

  11. The Lancet (2017, July 20). Risk factors for dementia. Retrieved September 21, 2023, from https://www.thelancet.com/infographics-do/dementia-risk

  12. Livingston, G., Huntley, J., Sommerlad, A., Ames, D., Ballard, C., Banerjee, S., Brayne, C., Burns, A., Cohen-Mansfield, J., Cooper, C., Costafreda, S. G., Dias, A., Fox, N., Gitlin, L. N., Howard, R., Kales, H. C., Kivimäki, M., Larson, E. B., Ogunniyi, A., Orgeta, V., … Mukadam, N. (2020). Dementia prevention, intervention, and care: 2020 report of the Lancet Commission. Lancet (London, England), 396(10248), 413–446. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30367-6