Addressing Early Hearing Loss Could Help Prevent Dementia

Addressing Early Hearing Loss Could Help Prevent Dementia

Dementia is a neurodegenerative disease which affects thinking, behavior, memory, and the ability to perform everyday activities. According to The World Health Organization (WHO) someone is diagnosed with dementia every 3-4 seconds! This equals 7-9 million new dementia diagnoses worldwide each year! These statistics are staggering but it is important to remember that while there is no cure for dementia it is not inevitable. 

There are several factors which increase your likelihood of dementia such as age (over 65) and genetics, but there are several modifiable factors. Some of these include prioritizing a diet rich in vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins, exercising for at least 30 minutes daily and maintaining an active social life. A rich social life helps keep us engaged, connected, and keeps our mind fresh. This is where hearing loss starts to be an issue. Hearing loss makes it more difficult to listen, respond to conversation and affects relationships. Overtime, untreated hearing loss becomes a major risk factor, leading to hearing loss. 

Managing Hearing Loss to Prevent Dementia

A study led by Dr. Frank Lin at Johns Hopkins University sought to better understand the connection to untreated hearing loss and dementia. He led a study in which 639 adults were tracked over about 12 years. The study showed how dementia was much more present in patients who had untreated hearing loss. A mild case of hearing loss doubled the risk, while a moderate case tripled the risk. For those in the study with severe hearing loss, not treating hearing loss created a five-fold risk in the development of dementia.

The most common type of dementia is Alzheimer’s accounting for 60% -80% of all dementia cases each year. The Alzheimer’s Action Plan began in 2012, presenting five ambitious goals to both prevent future cases of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.  The co-author of the Alzheimer’s Action Plan, P. Murali Doraiswamy, M.D. explains “The benefits of correcting hearing loss on cognition are twice as large as the benefits from any cognitive-enhancing drugs now on the market. It should be the first thing we focus on.”

 Why Does Hearing Loss Contribute to Dementia?

Researchers are not in concurrence about the connection between the two connections, just that hearing loss when untreated increases the risk. There are some theories as to why this is an issue. 

Cognitive overload

When someone struggles with hearing loss parts of words or sentences start to be difficult to detect. While hearing loss starts in the ears, the ultimate effect is put on the brain. The brain must struggle to understand what is being said with limited information. Over time this constant strain takes away from other cognitive functions, causing fatigue and a greater likeliness to self-isolate.

Social isolation

When a person struggles to understand conversation, withdrawal from social activities commonly occurs. Social isolation, reduced physical activity, and depression have all been recognized as risk factors for cognitive decline and dementia.

Brain shrinkage

Another theory is that when living with untreated hearing loss over the years, the brain becomes under-stimulated as it is deprived of certain auditory stimulation. Some structures of brain cells can potentially shrink when they don’t get enough stimulation.

MRI indicates accelerated brain atrophy in adults with hearing loss in the areas of the brain associated with memory and speech and language function. 

Treating your Hearing Loss to Lower the Risk of Dementia

Many specialists believe that one of the greatest things you can do to prevent dementia is to detect and treat hearing loss early. The most common treatment for hearing loss are hearing aids, which amplify the specific sounds you struggle with so you don’t have to strain to hear. You can connect to others, stay active and keep your mind clear. 

A recent study from Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) found that seniors with hearing loss, under the care of an audiologist, performed significantly better on cognitive function tests when wearing hearing aids in comparison to those who did not. This was true even when the person wearing hearing aids had more severe hearing loss than the ones who were not wearing them.

Treat Your Hearing Loss Now!

If you suspect that you have even a slight hearing loss, it is important to not put off dealing with it. A slight issue now could turn into very devastating cognitive issues later on. Schedule a hearing loss, not only for you, but do it for those who love and rely on you.

Know Alzheimer’s Disease: Treat Hearing Loss in September during World Alzheimer’s Month

Know Alzheimer's Disease Treat Hearing Loss in September during World Alzheimer's Month(5) (2)

If you know someone who has suffered Alzheimer’s disease, then you already know how devastating this disease is not only for you, but for the caregivers and loved ones who surround them. Therefore, each September, Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) celebrates World Alzheimer’s Month.  

Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia affect over 50 million people across the globe with nearly 10 million new cases being reported each year. This September is a great time to ask questions about this common brain condition and what you can do to delay or prevent it from happening to you or your loved ones.

Understanding Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease was named and discovered by Alois Alzheimer in 1906, who first identified tissue damage in the brains of his patients with similar mental health issues. This tissue damage was later identified as the formation of amyloid plaque and neurofibrillary tangles, which caused damage or destruction to brain tissue and stopped the important communication between brain cells. The result of this often starts as mild forgetfulness and over time escalates into the inability to complete everyday tasks. This is because dementia is considered a progressive disease.

How to Recognize Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease can occur at any age but is most identified in people 65 or older. It is estimated that every five years after 65, the risk of dementia doubles. At first, it is common to not notice. Everyone forgets their keys or an appointment every now and then. However, there are a few ways to recognize Alzheimer’s disease.

Memory Loss: Pay attention to your memory. While it is normal to forget an item at the grocery store, if you have dementia, these lapse in memory will become more and more frequent. It’s common to forget the day of the week or forget your medication. Eventually you may identify gaps in your recent memories, like forgetting who you met last week, or what happened yesterday.

Completing Task: You may have driven the same route for years, enjoyed a recipe, or enjoyed a craft or hobby. However, as Alzheimer’s becomes worse, you may forget how to complete the project in the middle of it.

Mood Swings: The issue is that it can be hard to self-identify Alzheimer’s. It creeps up and while others may notice, it’s easy for the person affected to not be aware of these cognitive lapses. Alzheimer’s disease can lead to some changes in your mood or cause you to become confused in social situations. Your loved ones may point out that your personality has shifted.

Preventing Alzheimer’s Disease

Anything you can do to improve the health of your brain can also minimize the risk of developing dementia. While age is a huge and unmodifiable factor in the likeliness of the development of dementia, it doesn’t mean that it is certain. Other factors such as an active lifestyle, a healthy heart conscious diet, avoiding stress and a healthy social life all help increase cognitive health and decrease the risk of cognitive decline

The Connection Between Alzheimer’s Disease and Hearing Loss

Like dementia, the risk of hearing loss increases as we reach 65. One in three people over 65 deal with hearing loss and half of those over 75. While you may not think that hearing loss is as serious as dementia, the truth is that they are very connected. This is because, while hearing happens in the ears, comprehension occurs in the brain. As we lose more and more sound delivered to the auditory cortex of our brain, it creates cognitive strain.

If you’re living with untreated hearing loss, a study for Johns Hopkins by Dr. Frank Lin found that the risk of dementia is significantly higher. The study found that people with a mild hearing loss are twice as likely to develop dementia for those with moderate hearing loss the risk was tripled and found to be a five-fold risk for those with a severe loss.

Get Your Hearing Tested

The fight against Alzheimer’s starts with you. This disease starts with individuals but the devastating effects ripple through communities of those who love them. Like dementia, we are not always aware we have a hearing issue, but that does not mean that it isn’t affecting our cognitive health. One thing you can do to fight Alzheimer’s Disease this September is to schedule a hearing test. The tests are painless, easy and can identify if you are struggling with a hearing loss once and for all.

How Treating Hearing Loss Supports Your Brain

How Treating Hearing Loss Supports Your Brain

Did you know that 1 in 3 people over the age of 65 have a hearing loss? That number grows to 1 in 2 people over the age of 75! Hearing loss is an inconvenience and frustration for many. Hearing loss makes it hard to follow conversations, enjoy watching TV, or hear during concerts or religious services. Not only that, but hearing loss also affects the brain in some surprising ways.

Hearing Loss Is Linked to Dementia

Hearing loss makes it harder to have a laugh with friends, but hearing loss does a lot more than make your dinner parties difficult. Hearing loss has a major impact on the brain. In fact, a recent study found that older adults with hearing loss are far more likely to develop dementia or Alzheimer’s disease than adults who can hear clearly.

Adults with moderate hearing loss are more likely than their hearing peers to have a dementia diagnosis. And adults with severe hearing loss are much more likely to develop dementia.

Hearing Loss and the Brain

But why is hearing loss linked to dementia? It’s because hearing loss has a big impact on the brain. Hearing doesn’t just happen in your ears. A lot of your hearing actually happens in the brain. That’s why untreated hearing loss is very damaging for your brain in a number of ways. Older adults with hearing loss experience rapid cognitive decline, have a hard time doing cognitive tasks, and even have more cell loss and brain shrinkage.

Auditory Deprivation from Hearing Loss

When you live with untreated hearing loss, your brain experiences auditory deprivation. This means that your brain is deprived of certain sounds. When your ears can’t pick up on all the sounds around you, they don’t send signals about these sounds to your brain. The brain experiences auditory deprivation, since lots of sounds in your natural hearing range aren’t making it to your brain anymore. 

After some time without hearing certain sounds, the brain cells in the auditory region start to atrophy or die, shrinking the auditory centers in the brain. In fact, parts of the auditory regions in the brain even get reassigned to other sensory systems, such as vision. When this happens, you’ll discover that the rule “use it or lose it” applies to your hearing as well. After prolonged auditory deprivation, you’ll lose those brain cells, and even when you finally treat your hearing loss, you may never regain the ability to hear those sounds.

How Treating Hearing Loss Supports Your Brain

The good news is that there’s a simple thing you can do to support your brain. Just treat your hearing loss! Wearing hearing aids helps the cells in your ear pick up more of the sounds around you. More signals will get sent to your brain, and you won’t need to worry about auditory deprivation. When you treat your hearing loss, you’ll have an easy time hearing conversations, hearing speech even in noisy environments, and hearing all the soft sounds around you.

Slowing Hearing Loss and Cognitive Decline

Another way hearing aids can support your brain is by slowing hearing loss. When you wear quality hearing aids that reduce auditory deprivation, your brain will hear more of the sounds around you. This keeps your ears and brain healthier and can slow hearing loss.

Treating hearing loss also supports your brain by slowing the rate of cognitive decline. People who treat their hearing loss with hearing aids are less likely to develop dementia than those who don’t treat their hearing loss.

Early Treatment of Hearing Loss

To support brain health, prioritize your hearing health! As soon as you notice any changes in your hearing, schedule a hearing test to discover exactly what sounds you’re missing. We recommend that adults over 50 have a hearing test every 2 to 3 years, and adults over 60 get their hearing tested every 1 to 2 years. 

If you have hearing loss, find the hearing aids that help you hear. This supports your brain before you notice any auditory deprivation. It will take you a few weeks to adjust to your new devices, but once you’re used to wearing hearing aids, these devices will keep your ears and your brain healthy.

How Treating Hearing Loss Supports Your Brain

A hand holding a head with cogs inside of it

 

Hearing loss is a common part of aging, with approximately one in three people in the United States between the ages of 65 and 74 experiencing hearing loss, and nearly half of those older than 75 having difficulty hearing. While this is normal, avoiding hearing loss treatment can have serious effects on your brain.

Neuroplasticity’s Effect on the Brain

A study done at the University of Colorado’s Department of Speech Language and Hearing Science examined neuroplasticity, which is how the brain reorganizes itself by forming new neuron connections throughout a lifetime.  The study explored how neuroplasticity effects the adaptation of the brain after the onset of hearing loss. The study explores the questions: How does the brain adapt to hearing loss and what are the implications?

Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to change at any age. While it was previously believed that the brain was at unable to grow and evolve, scientists now know this is not true. In the case of hearing loss, the area of the brain devoted to hearing can actually become reorganized, or reassigned to other functions. In this study the participants were adults and children with varying degrees of hearing loss. Some had only mild hearing loss while others were severely hearing impaired or deaf. Using up to 128 sensors attached to the scalp of each subject, the team of researchers used EEG recordings to measure brain activities in response to sound stimulation. In doing this, they were able to understand how the brains of people with different degrees of hearing loss respond differently than those of people with healthy hearing.

One of the most important discoveries researchers came away with on this study was when hearing loss occurs, areas of the brain devoted to other senses such as vision or touch will actually take over the areas of the brain which normally process hearing. It’s a phenomenon called cross-modal cortical reorganization, which is reflective of the brain’s tendency to compensate for the loss of other senses. Essentially, the brain adapts to a loss by rewiring itself.  While this re-organization is an impressive testament to the adaptability of the human mind this reorganization can have a seriously detrimental effect on cognition.

Even early stages of hearing loss can lead to cognitive decline.

Why Hearing Health Matters

Compensatory brain reorganization may explain why age-related hearing loss is so strongly correlated with dementia, and why it must be taken seriously. Even in the early stages of hearing loss, the brain begins to reorganize. Knowing this, the solution could be as simple as early hearing loss screening programs for adults. Getting ahead of the decline through early intervention could prevent long term cognitive issues down the road. Aside from the realization that hearing loss can affect the very memories that make up your life hearing loss effects so many aspects of mental and brain health.

Healthy hearing and early intervention in the event of any degree hearing loss are essential to maintaining strong cognitive function. According to an April 2014 study published in JAMA Otolaryngology Head & Neck Surgery, 11.4% of adults with self-reported hearing impairment have moderate to severe depression, significantly larger than the 5.9% prevalence of depression for those with typical hearing.

When a person cannot hear properly, engaging in conversations is a daily struggle, and can lead to social isolation and depression. In people 65 years and older, hearing impairment is among the most common chronic conditions associated with depression. In addition to depression, hearing loss has been linked to schizophrenia. which supports the social defeat hypothesis. This hypothesis proposes that social exclusion and loneliness can predispose people to schizophrenia by an increase in sensitization of the dopamine system.

Prevent Cognitive Decline

While hearing aids have proven over and over again to help with hearing loss and cognitive decline, less than 25 percent of people who need hearing aids actually get them. The average time someone with hearing loss waits to seek treatment is seven years, which is a tremendous period of cognitive decline that is easily preventable.

Contact us at Hearing Consultants to set up a hearing test.  From your hearing test, we can diagnose exactly whether a hearing loss is present, and if so, the best way to treat it.  Contact us today and start the process to improving your hearing and cognitive health!

May is Better Speech and Hearing Month!

May is Better Speech and Hearing Month!

 

At least 20 percent of U.S. adults, at some point in their lives experience a significant difficulty in hearing. These challenges can compromise physical and emotional health and affect the social, educational, vocational, and recreational aspects of life. Ever since 1927, The American Speech-Language and Hearing Association (ASHA) has designated May as Better Speech and Hearing Month. It is a time to raise public awareness of the hearing and speech-language disorders that affect over 14 million Americans. Every May ASHA helps spread a hopeful, positive message about communication disorders—and the important role of the professionals who treat them. This year is no different, with the theme of “Communication Across the Lifespan. ”

Hearing Loss Across the Life Span

According to the Center for Hearing Loss and Communication, 48 million Americans are affected by hearing loss, which can begin at birth or develop at any age. For example, hearing loss can be present at birth or develop over time and effect adults who use their voices a lot in their jobs, such as teachers and performers. ASHA supports a wide range of research to help develop effective diagnostic and treatment strategies relevant to communication throughout the lifespan.

One of the most common communication disorders in older adults is hearing loss, affecting approximately one in three adults ages 65 to 74, and nearly half of those older than 75. Hearing loss can lead to feelings of isolation and loss of connection from family, friends, and the community. Although hearing aids and other assistive devices can improve quality of life, only about one in four adults (age 20 and over) who could benefit from hearing aids have ever used them.

Knowing the Signs Of Hearing Loss

Before you can seek treatment for hearing loss, you must first accept that you have a condition hindering your communication. Most cases of hearing loss develop gradually so the symptoms are often difficult to recognize. Some clear signs of hearing loss include;

  • – You believe people are mumbling
  • – People often complain that your television or radio is turned up too loud
  • – Difficulty in hearing someone calling from behind you
  • – Difficulty communicating in small groups of people
  • – Communication difficulties in noisy environments
  • – A frequent need to ask people to repeat themselves
  • – Difficulties in hearing the doorbell or the telephone ringing
  • – Family, colleagues and friends suggest you might be suffering from hearing loss
  • – You have to lip read the people who talk to you
  • – You feel that you must really concentrate to hear someone talk or whisper

The Dangers of Untreated Hearing Loss

If you experience these signs of hearing loss, you may feel that your social life is suffering too because of hearing and communication difficulties. You may even be tempted to avoid social gatherings and other social situations where misunderstandings become common. This can put a real strain on your relationships with friends, family and even your spouse.  Hearing loss often leads to poor performance at work, causing your earning power to plummet and employers to values you less. Ultimately these communication difficulties can lead to isolation and depression, and there is even a link between untreated hearing loss and dementia.

The Benefits of Treatment

Fortunately, hearing loss is treatable. According to the Better Hearing Institute, 95 percent of Americans with hearing loss can be treated with hearing aids and individuals who treat their hearing loss early have shown significant benefit. Hearing aids help process incoming sound making it easier for your brain to understand them.  With the modern innovations of hearing aids today they are more user friendly than ever before and designed to work with your lifestyle.  There has never been a better time than now to need hearing aids, and, in the future, the innovative features of hearing aids will only be more affordable.

Hearing Consultants

If you suspect you have hearing loss use this May’s Better Speech and Hearing Month as a call to action.  At Hearing Consultants, we can help.  Contact us to set up a hearing test.  Hearing tests are quick and painless and can confirm whether or not you have a hearing loss.  You have nothing to lose and so much to gain!

 

How Exercise, Diet, Sleep, and Hearing Affect Brain Aging

How Exercise, Diet, Sleep, and Hearing Affect Brain Aging

Have you been wondering what factors affect your brain, and what can lead to early aging? Exercise, diet, sleep, and hearing all affect brain aging. If you look after your health today, you can look forward to a future with a healthy brain, but if you ignore the advice of your doctor, you could be facing some serious consequences as you age.

What Happens to the Brain as We Age?

According to Stephen M. Stahl, professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego, exercise, diet, sleep, and hearing are the 4 biggest factors that affect the brain as we age. “In normal aging, our brains slow down,” explains Stahl. “Intelligence remains stable, but we become less mentally flexible. We have longer processing time and declines in motor, sensory, and cognitive abilities.” In fact, in normal aging, the brain shrinks, and there is less white matter tissue in an older brain, as well as less myelin, the coating along neural pathways that speeds up synaptic activity in the brain.

Exercise and the Brain

It’s no secret that staying mobile is the key to staying young. Running around the park with your grandchildren will keep you young at heart, help you maintain a healthy weight, and keep your joints working smoothly. For those who are active as they age, the risk of dementia is lowered by 32%, meaning that your brain is a lot healthier! Even exercising for half an hour 3 or more times a week has great benefits for your overall health and wellbeing as well as your brain health. Recent studies show that exercising leads to improved attention and processing speed, as well as better memory recall and decision-making skills.

Diet and the Brain

They say you are what you eat, and this might hold more truth than you realize. Two diets that are great for the brain are the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH), and the Mediterranean Diet (MediDiet). While you can follow any healthy diet, the reason these particular diets showed great brain health was due to the high recommended consumption of fruits, vegetables, legumes, and nuts. Both diets also recommend a low intake of red meat or any processed meats. For adults following these diets, studies show improved cognitive function, lower rates of cognitive decline, and better brain health.

Sleep and the Brain

This one is a real no-brainer, and we all know how tired and unfocused we are if we haven’t had a good night’s sleep. Sleep disorders are increasingly common among seniors, and many adults struggle with insomnia or sleep apnea, both of which impact your ability to fall asleep and sleep deeply through the night. A lack of sleep has some extremely negative health outcomes, including stress, anxiety, and depression. You might also experience irritability, moodiness, and the inability to concentrate on tasks.

Hearing and the Brain

Finally, hearing has been closely linked to brain health. Hearing loss affects millions of Americans of all ages, and especially among seniors, living with untreated hearing loss is hurting your brain. Hearing loss is linked to rapid cognitive decline, and a higher risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Those with hearing loss aren’t able to communicate easily, often withdraw from conversations, and face social isolation. The brain doesn’t get enough exercise, and in a case of use it or lose it, hearing loss can lead to poor brain health. Hearing loss has also been linked to problems with memory, attention span, and the ability to focus on difficult tasks, whether at home or at the office.

Hearing Consultants

Do the right thing for your brain, and call us today at the Hearing Consultants. According to Stahl, treating hearing loss can lead to cognitive improvements, and when you get a quality pair of hearing aids, you’ll notice the difference not just in your hearing, but in your cognitive abilities. Your friends and family will be amazed at how well you can hold your own in battles of the wit, and you’ll wish you’d treated your hearing loss sooner. Once you’ve looked after your hearing health, take a close look at your exercise, diet, and sleep patterns, and learn new ways to preserve brain health.

 

Symptoms of Memory Loss Could Actually Be Hearing Loss

Symptoms of Memory Loss Could Actually Be Hearing Loss

 

The connection between hearing loss and cognitive disorders like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease have been clearly established in the medical literature. Researchers have shown that those who have hearing loss are statistically more likely to have dementia and the decline of cognitive ability among those who have hearing loss tends to be quicker, as well. However, the nature of that connection remains unclear. Some suspect that the two simply occur at the same time of life, and many experience both conditions at once. Yet, the statistical results of these studies demonstrate a stronger link than mere coincidence. This link may have a causal dimension. It is possible that having hearing loss actually makes it more likely to have a cognitive dysfunction, such as dementia.

A New Study on Hearing Loss & Memory

A recent study in the Canadian Journal on Aging demonstrated the possibility of this link. Dr. Susan Vandermorris is a neuropsychologist at Baycrest, and she led the study of the connection between memory loss, an early sign of dementia, and hearing loss. The majority of participants who were evaluated for memory, thinking, brain, and cognitive concerns had some form of hearing loss, ranging from mild to severe. Out of this group who had hearing loss, only about 20 percent were using assistance, such as hearing aids. This anomaly led the researchers to think more deeply about the connection between memory loss, hearing loss, and how we measure each condition.

A quarter of the participants in this study did not show any signs of memory loss due to a brain disorder, yet something led them to seek treatment. That something is often a loved one or family member. Clients who came seeking treatment tended to be urged by a close relative who has complained that they don’t seem to be paying attention that they don’t seem to be listening to what they have to say, or that they don’t remember what was said to them in conversation. As you can see, these conditions may be closely related to hearing loss. When a person seems to be checked out, unable to pay attention, or unable to remember details of conversations, each of these experiences is equally likely to be due to hearing loss as it is to memory loss.

The connection between memory loss and hearing loss is a puzzle that remains to be solved. Those who suspect that hearing loss may cause dementia point to the link between spoken language and cognition. When a person has hearing loss, the sounds that encounter the ears are a jumble of randomness. Fragments of words might break through, and sounds can be like the pieces of puzzle. The time expected for a person to understand a conversation is like putting a timer on the game, requiring the listener to quickly throw together random sounds into something meaningful, even when speech is unintelligible. You can imagine how difficult this process might be, creating a heavy cognitive load on the person with hearing loss. The mind is under constant assault during these conversations, with too much being expected of it and too few audible resources.

Many neuropsychologists suspect that this cognitive load can spill over into other areas of thought, and this relationship may even be responsible for memory loss and dementia. That being the case, this study points to two components of the relationship between hearing loss and memory loss. In the first instance, a loved one may simply mistake hearing loss for memory loss. When a person cannot hear what is said, she or he will have no opportunity to remember it! In the other case, it is possible that hearing loss may actually be a risk factor for developing memory loss and more advanced dementia.

Seeking Treatment for Hearing Loss

With these two components of the relationship between hearing loss and memory loss, it is more urgent than ever to seek assistance for hearing problems. At Hearing Consultants, we provide comprehensive hearing tests. If a hearing loss is detected, treating hearing loss with the use of hearing aids can make an incredible difference in your ability to understand, think, and remember, especially when it comes to face-to-face conversations. The first step is the simplest. Call us at Hearing Consultantsto make an appointment for a hearing test and consultation to embark on the path toward healthy hearing once again.  

 

Treating Hearing Loss is an Important Part of Caring for Your Health as You Age

Treating Hearing Loss is an Important Part of Caring for Your Health as You Age

 

As you age your hearing will inevitably become more strained. Age-related hearing loss, or presbycusis, is the loss of hearing that gradually occurs in most of us as we grow older. Approximately one in three people in the United States between the ages of 65 and 74 has hearing loss, and nearly half of those older than 75 have difficulty hearing. Are you worried about your hearing loss worsening over time? Not sure if you’re experiencing hearing loss? Here are five types of exercises you can do to help boost your hearing abilities!

Solving Puzzles to Combat Hearing Loss

The brain plays major role in processing sound information our ear receives.  It’s important not to ignore it. Research shows that there are links between hearing loss and mental conditions such as anxiety and depression. This may be a result of brain atrophy, which occurs when brain cells and connections shrink. Like muscles, your brain needs a workout to stay in shape and continue pumping.

Solving a variety of puzzles such as crossword puzzles, word searches, and Sudoku throughout the week are fun exercises that get your brain working to prevent atrophy. Playing bingo with your friends, and card games such as hearts and poker, are more great ways to work out your brain and combat hearing loss.

Do Yoga to Improve Your Hearing

Yoga is widely practiced for its many health benefits. There are even yoga exercises that help with your hearing as well! The goal of these exercises is to increase circulation in your ears and your brain, since increased circulation helps improve nerve functions and forces out harmful toxins.

Yoga poses that help with circulation include the tree pose, lotus pose, cobra pose, and triangle pose. Yoga can also help with tinnitus and an overall sense of peace and calm.  There are many videos online if there are no yoga classes in your area, so take advantage of this great way to protect your hearing.

Exercise Daily to Maintain your Hearing

Keeping your body in shape is important for keeping your ears and brain healthy. Exercise every day by going out for a walk, taking a jog, or even just gardening.  You could even turn your housework into an exercise routine. Anything to get your blood pumping and circulation going strong is good for your hearing health.

Try not to exercise with headphones, earphones, or any source of loud music, because repeated exposure to loud noise can damage ear cells, which are irreplaceable. If you decide to exercise with music, keep the volume relatively quiet and comfortable. As a rule, if other people around you can ear the music playing in your headphones or earbuds, your music is too loud.

Meditate to Improve Your Hearing

Meditate in your backyard or a park, or anywhere you will be surrounded by gentle sounds. As you meditate, take deep breaths to help blood circulation and increase oxygen in your body. Focus on each sound around you and try to locate where each sound is coming from. This exercise will relax you, and also help you concentrate on deciphering sounds in noisy environments by determining the location of each sound.

Practice Focusing on and Locating Sounds to Sharpen your Hearing

Hearing exercises can help you hone in on where sounds are coming from and who or what is making the sounds. There are exercises you can do with a friend or loved one to improve your hearing health.  Place a Bluetooth speaker or radio in one area of the room, and play music at a comfortable volume. Place another sound source in a different area of the room, and turn up the volume until the combination of the two sounds creates a noisy environment.

Have someone move around the room while reading sentences from a book or newspaper. Close your eyes, repeat the sentence back to them, and try to locate where the person is standing in the room.

Hearing Consultants

It is normal for hearing to decline with age, but with some of these daily exercises you can practice harm reduction to slow this process.  These are only a few of the  exercises that can keep your hearing and brain in shape. If you’ve noticed any recent changes to your hearing health, visit us today at Hearing Consultants for a hearing test.

November is National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month

November is National Alzheimer's Awareness Month

Did you know that November is National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month? In 1983, President Ronald Reagan wanted to shed light on this devastating disease, which at the time affect 2 million people. That number has since grown to over 5 million people affected by Alzheimer’s disease.  Here at Hearing Consultants, our commitment to hearing health means that we want to bring awareness to the link between untreated hearing loss and a potential risk for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Studies on Hearing Loss and Cognitive Abilities

A striking connection has been discovered between hearing loss and dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Frank Lin and his fellow researchers at Johns Hopkins University have discovered two important findings regarding this connection. In the first case, they have found that hearing loss and dementia are statistically linked, with those who have an untreated hearing loss more likely to experience diminished cognitive abilities, which opens up the risk for dementia. In another study, they also found a link between the rate of decline for those who have both dementia and hearing loss. In other words, those who had hearing loss along with dementia experienced a faster decline in their cognitive ability.

It is important to note that hearing loss affects two-thirds of people over the age of 65 and is a natural occurrence with aging. Presbycusis, or age-related hearing loss, is common and treatable. On the other hand, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease (which makes up 60% to 80% of dementia cases) are not natural conditions when it comes to aging. Among the risk factors for dementia and Alzheimer’s, two stand out to us: untreated hearing loss and social isolation.

The Effects of Hearing Loss on Your Social Life

Take a moment to think back to the last time you were at a large social gathering for the holidays. Perhaps it was a public event such as a concert, play, or movie. You might be thinking of a family party where everyone converged at the end of the year to catch up and revisit memories from past holidays. You might even be thinking of the experience of shopping for gifts in a crowded locale, such as a shopping mall or city commercial district. Now ask yourself: how important was my hearing in that instance?

With few exceptions, you will agree that hearing is crucial to your ability to take part in a social gathering around the holidays. Even at small events, such as a gathering of immediate family members, the ability to have a conversation relies on the ability to hear what others are saying. Without that ability, the puzzle falls to pieces, and you are left feeling alone within the crowd. You might even recall holidays past when you were able to easily relate with your family members and closest friends. Without the ability to hear properly in a conversation, that connection can be lost.

One of the most common signs of untreated hearing loss is social isolation. As we know, hearing loss can be an isolating experience. Those who struggle to understand what others have to say may find themselves increasingly reticent to engage in social events, parties, and family gatherings. Even if they do attend, they may prefer to keep quiet and let others do the talking. Any attempt at communication may be met with frustration, anger, or embarrassment. Some will feel that they are not able to connect with even their closest loved ones. All of this can accumulate to the experience of social isolation. Either desiring to stay home during social events or avoiding communication while attending them, people with hearing loss may find themselves isolated from others.

This social isolation may hold a key to understanding the link with dementia. We know that communication is key to keeping the cognitive process freely flowing and open to new information.

Treating Hearing Loss

This holiday season, take the opportunity to give a priceless gift to your family by seeking hearing loss treatment. If you’ve noticed changes in your hearing abilities, it is important to contact us at Hearing Consultants. Just imagine how much more enjoyable these holiday gatherings can be when you feel connected to the sounds around you! Contact us today to schedule a consultation.