Thursday, April 5, 2012

Hearing Loss, Alzheimer's and Dementia

Hearing loss is associated with several diseases among them are dementia, cognitive dysfunction, and alzheimer's disease.   We now know there are more older adults with dementia who have hearing loss then there are older adults in general with hearing loss. 
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia.  What we found is a link between hearing loss and Alzheimer’s disease.   For every 10 decibels (a measurement of volume) of hearing loss there is a 20% increase in the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.  Another study demonstrates adults with a mild to moderate hearing loss used so much energy to hear, they were unable to recall a short list of words.  Other cognitive abilities affected by hearing loss include learning new tasks, reduced alertness, irritability, anger and fatigue.   Thus hearing loss can make it appear as if someone is having memory issues when really it is a hearing problem.  Left untreated, hearing loss can result in permanent changes in the way the brain works. 
On a positive note, when treated with hearing aids and listening training, symptoms such as depression, anxiety, cognitive decline and disorientation can be reduced.  Just as we know working crossword puzzles and other word games stimulate the brain, so does hearing.  Just hearing sounds in your environment stimulates the brain.  Basically it is a case of use it or lose it. And unfortunately, while there are many people with Alzheimer’s who have hearing loss, they are less likely to receive hearing help. 
The Better Hearing Institute recommends regular comprehensive audiologic examination and hearing aids when recommended.  Hearing aids can and do improve the quality of life of those with Alzheimer’s.  Call today to schedule an appointment. 

Life Sounds Great! Enjoy Every Moment!
Jane Kukula, AuD
Paula Webster, MA

Board Certified Audiologists
Advanced Audiology Concepts
8897 Mentor Ave
Mentor, Ohio 44060

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