October 22, 2020

Hearing loss linked to increased risk of dementia – how independent living retirement communities are equipped to handle both issues

Independent Living, Memory Care, retirement community
The Senior Care Experts at Ecumenical Retirement Community

Dementia is a disease that currently affects over five million Americans, mostly seniors. From memory loss to a decline in physical health, many seniors choose to enter independent living retirement communities to better deal with all of the aspects dementia, and other health issues can bring. There are several warning signs that seniors in independent living retirement communities and those living at home should pay attention to when it comes to memory issues. One example comes from research with Johns Hopkins Medicine, which shows the hidden risks of hearing loss and how it can be connected to dementia and other important health concerns. 

What seniors should know about hearing loss and dementia

The main takeaway from the Johns Hopkins study is that the leading researcher, Frank Lin, M.D., Ph.D., and his team, found high correlations between the risk of dementia and hearing loss in even its most mild forms. The research, that tracked 639 adults over a 12-year period, showed that minor hearing loss doubled a senior’s risk for dementia, moderate hearing loss tripled the risk and that those with severe loss of hearing were five times as likely to be diagnosed with dementia. 

The study also concluded that hearing loss can contribute to more brain atrophy, which can lead to several cognitive decline-related illnesses, dementia and Alzheimer’s included. 

Hearing loss is an extremely common part of aging. Many seniors, almost two-thirds according to AARP, will experience hearing loss that could result in the need for a hearing aid by the time they begin researching independent living retirement communities. For this reason, the results of the Johns Hopkins study came as an important revelation. 

While worrisome that such a commonality in seniors could be a trigger for dementia, it’s also a beneficial warning sign that could help detect the illness early for more effective treatment. It also means that dementia risk could be combatted more aggressively by targeting hearing loss through hearing aids and other cochlear implants and rehabilitation. The study also points out that hearing loss in no way means dementia is inevitable, but only that the connection of a higher risk exists and can be important for prevention.

How life in independent living retirement communities can help those at risk for dementia

One symptom related to hearing loss that can sometimes be overlooked is the isolation it can cause. Often times, those with rapidly declining hearing pull away from social situations where they feel their hearing will be an issue, which can lead to few conversations with friends or family, and less participation in group activities. Not only can this escalate depression, but this can also contribute to a rapid decrease in all cognitive decline as the brain isn’t getting as much stimulation. Both of these issues are a key component in the progression of dementia.

Independent living retirement communities like Ecumenical Retirement Community in Harrisburg, PA recognize that keeping seniors active both physically and mentally can be crucial in improving brain health, which will ultimately act as a defense against diseases like dementia. Through group activities and social events, seniors in independent living retirement communities can have a better opportunity to interact with others and keep their minds active. In addition to interacting with other residents, seniors in a retirement community also have the chance to work with a dedicated medical care team on a regular basis who can track any concerns and early signs of potentially damaging illnesses like dementia. 


Independent living retirement communities like Ecumenical Retirement Community are designed to respond to a variety of health needs

Life on campus at Ecumenical Retirement Community is designed to allow our residents to live fully, without needing to worry about daily stressors or changing medical needs. Along with our sister organization, Country Meadows, we’re able to give all residents an enriching lifestyle through a wide range of care and services. Whether your needs are related to dementia and memory support or restorative care and medication management, our campus provides individualized services for individual needs. We offer an affordable approach to independent living retirement communities while providing meals, housekeeping services, and daily activities in addition to medical and staff access 24 hours a day. Our personal care or assisted living services are also available to those who have elevated needs. 

Ecumenical Retirement Community, located in Harrisburg, PA, is continuously recognized as one of the area’s top not-for-profit independent living retirement communities. For more information on our services and to see if our community is the right fit for you or your loved ones, you can contact us today to request more information or to schedule a visit. We look forward to seeing you on our campus and answering any of your questions. 

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