DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — Not wearing hearing aids when needed may increase your risk of dementia.

A study from John Hopkins University stated that “studies over the last several years suggest that hearing loss may be the largest contributor to dementia out of all known risk factors.”

Hearing aids provide sound stimulation to the brain that you would otherwise miss out on. Even the slightest change in hearing can make a big impact.

Experts say wearing hearing aids as needed can reduce the risk of dementia by nearly 50%.

“It’s very important to have your hearing tested as with every 10 decibels of hearing loss your risk for cognitive decline increases twofold. So, the sooner you can get started with hearing aids if hearing loss is your issue. The faster your brain can adapt,” said Chrstina Dreve, hearing specialist at Beltone.

Dreve says social status is affected by not wearing hearing aids. Those who need them can be less likely to interact with others or go out in public.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that by 2050, 1 in 10 people will have disabling hearing loss.