Strong evidence exists that hearing impairment contributes to the progression of cognitive dysfunction in older adults. Unmanaged hearing loss can interrupt the processing of spoken language, exhaust cognitive reserve, and lead to social isolation. When an individual has both Alzheimer’s and hearing loss, many of the symptoms of hearing loss can interact with those common to Alzheimer’s, making the disease more difficult than it might be if the hearing loss had been addressed.
Research has shown that the use of hearing aids has helped to reduce Alzheimer’s patients’ symptoms of depression, negativism, disorientation, anxiety, loss of independence and general cognitive decline.
A comprehensive hearing assessment should be part of any Alzheimer’s diagnosis and any hearing loss should be addressed. Most hearing loss can be managed with hearing aids. These individual’s — and their families and caregivers — face many challenges. Untreated hearing loss shouldn’t have to be one of them.