Even slight hearing loss can lead to dementia and even Alzheimer’s

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OKLAHOMA CITY -- Freda Jones leads an active and busy life. She doesn't let age stand in her way.

"I love my home that's on five acres and maintaining the yard and house," Freda Jones says. "I am 87 moving toward 88."

But her hearing loss was moving her toward frustration and withdrawal.

"People talk to you and you don't know what they said and you don't really reply so you're not part of the group."

With a hearing aid in one ear and cochlear implant in the other, her life suddenly changed.

"Oh my gosh, it's like having a second career. I get the shivers when I think about it," Jones explains.

But recent studies, especially one just out from Johns Hopkins, show there's so much more to it. Dr. Jace Wolfe of Hearts for Hearing in Oklahoma said it's a big deal.

"What they were able to show which was really startling is that people who have even mild degrees of hearing loss are more likely to have progressions of symptoms of dementia and memory loss and more likely to have Alzheimer's," Dr. Wolfe says.

Dr. Wolfe said that hearing loss, even mild loss, could lead to dementia if untreated for a number of reasons.

"One is the, 'if you don't use it you lose it phenomenon.' If you can't hear, sometimes the part of the brain responsible for processing sound they did follow up research and it shows that part of the brain shrinks," Dr. Wolfe explains.

Dr. Wolfe said this groundbreaking research is a wake up call for many of us.

"If you're in your 40's and 50's it's a good idea to get your hearing checked," Dr. Wolfe says.

A little hearing boost that will boost your quality of life. Just ask  Freda - who doesn't miss a thing.

"You're not going to end up in a dribble you can reach out and be excited about life."