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.

Celebrate World Alzheimer’s Month with a Hearing Test

Celebrate World Alzheimer's Month with a Hearing Test
  • September is World Alzheimer’s Month! Every year, Alzheimer’s Disease International spends the month of September educating people around the world by sharing the facts about dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Take some time this month to learn more about Alzheimer’s disease, and find out what you can do to reduce your risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

Learn About Alzheimer’s Disease

The terms Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are often used interchangeably. This is because Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia. Dementia is a brain disease that’s characterized by memory loss and decreases in function. As the disease damages cells in the brain, the person with dementia will start to notice decreases in cognitive abilities.

Common symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease include problems with memory, difficulty doing simple tasks, and even experiencing changes in personality. According to Alzheimer’s Disease International, there are over 50 million people worldwide who suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

 

Know the Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease

The earliest signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease can be hard to spot. After all, we’ve all had times when we forget where we left our car keys, and most people think they’re just having a senior moment. If some forgetfulness is the only thing you’ve noticed, you probably don’t have dementia. However, there are a number of other small things you might start experiencing. The signs of Alzheimer’s disease include:

– Frequent memory loss. This could be something small, like forgetting what you need to buy at the grocery store. It could also be bigger gaps in recent memory, like forgetting what you did yesterday, or missing a family member’s birthday.

– Struggling to complete tasks. You’ve been cooking breakfast every day for years, but when you have dementia, this simple task seems complicated. You may get stuck half way through the task, and be unable to finish what you started.

– Communication difficulties. You may have a hard time following what people are saying. You might also struggle to find the words you want to say and find yourself at a loss for words.

– Feeling stressed during social gatherings. As you have a harder time communicating and remembering, you may start to feel stressed or uncomfortable during social events. You may decide to stay home, or feel anxious when meeting friends.

– Feeling easily confused. Dementia can lead to disorientation. You may realize you don’t know the date or time. You may even feel confused about where you are, and not remember how you got to the grocery store.

– Personality or mood changes. Another sign of Alzheimer’s disease is changes to your mood or your personality. You may feel like a different person or respond in ways your family is not expecting.

These are some of the most common signs of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. If you have more than one of these symptoms, visit your doctor to learn more about dementia, and what you can do to manage your symptoms.

How You Can Reduce Your Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease

Did you know that hearing loss is linked to Alzheimer’s disease? Frank Lin and his colleagues at Johns Hopkins University have been studying dementia and looking for ways to reduce your risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. They found a strong connection between hearing loss and dementia! In fact, older adults with hearing loss are two times more likely to develop dementia than adults who don’t have hearing loss.

Why You Should Take a Hearing Test

One of the best things you can do for your overall health and well being is to take a hearing test. If you have hearing loss, treating your hearing loss will help you hear everything you’ve been straining to hear. You’ll enjoy conversations with loved ones and get back to doing the things you love. You’ll also reduce your risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease and keep your brain healthy.

This September, celebrate World Alzheimer’s Month with a hearing test! Together we’ll find out if you have mild, moderate, or severe hearing loss. We’ll also determine the kind of hearing loss you have, and suggest the best treatment options. Visit us today to learn more about the connection between your ears and your brain.

A Link Between Hearing Loss & Dementia 

A Link Between Hearing Loss & Dementia

Dementia is a chronic health condition that impacts nearly 6 million people in the U.S. Dementia refers to a range of diseases that are characterized by cognitive decline: memory loss, difficulty concentrating, reduced ability to solve problems and make decisions etc. These symptoms restrict one’s capacity to manage daily life independently. There are several types of dementia that include Lewy Body, Parkinson’s, vascular, and Alzheimer’s disease. 

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s accounts for 60-80% of all types of dementia that people experience. Dementia is a condition that is irreversible so identifying risk factors is incredibly crucial in establishing ways that it can be prevented or delayed. Significant research has shown that hearing loss increases the risk for cognitive decline. 

Understanding Hearing Loss 

A pervasive health issue, hearing loss impacts millions of people. There is a range of factors that can cause hearing loss including existing medical conditions, genetic history, and environmental exposure to loud noise. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders

    • Nearly 1 in 8 people (ages 12 and older) have some degree of hearing loss in one or both ears
    • 25% of adults ages 65-74 have hearing loss 
    • 50% of adults 75 and older have hearing loss 

These statistics highlight that hearing loss is the third most common medical condition that older adults navigate. Impaired hearing restricts one’s ability to absorb and process sound. This (most commonly) is the result of damaged hair cells in the inner ear. The inner ear consists of thousands of hair cells and nerve endings that help translate soundwaves into electrical signals for the brain to process which is how we are able to make sense of what we hear. These hair cells do not regenerate, meaning that when they are damaged, the impairment is permanent. Hearing loss strains communication which if left untreated, can take a toll on relationships and impact job performance. Additionally, hearing loss also contributes to the development of various other medical conditions including cognitive decline.

Link Between Hearing Loss & Dementia

Research has shown that there is a significant correlation between hearing loss and dementia which are chronic health issues that disproportionately impact older adults: 

    • 80% of people who have Alzheimer’s are 75 and older
    • 50% of adults aged 75 and older have disabling hearing loss 

Understanding the nature of how these conditions are related continues to be the subject of ongoing research. In a major study, published in 2019, researchers investigated this link by collecting data on self-reported hearing loss and cognitive decline. Conducted at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (Boston), researchers carried out an 8-year study involving 10,107 participants. Beginning in 2008, participants who had no cognitive concerns, self-reported their hearing status and cognitive function. Collected every four years (2008, 2012, and 2016), the findings revealed that the development of hearing loss increased the risk of cognitive decline. Specifically, cognitive decline was: 

    • 30% higher among people with mild hearing loss 
    • 42% higher among people with moderate hearing loss 
    • 54% higher among people with severe hearing loss 

These findings not only show that cognitive decline was more likely with people who had hearing loss but also that the greater the hearing loss, the increased chance that someone developed cognitive decline. Exactly how this happens continues to be further investigated. Researchers suggest that the presence of hearing loss renders parts of the brain (responsible for how we hear) inactive. The brain cells, muscles, and nerve pathways that are not being used (because of hearing impairment) then impacts overall cognitive function.  

Treating Hearing Loss 

A critical way to prevent or delay the development of dementia is by treating hearing loss. Addressing hearing loss is relatively simple and starts by scheduling an appointment for a hearing test. Conducted by our team of hearing healthcare specialists, hearing tests involve a noninvasive process that determines any impairment, the degree, and specific type of hearing loss you may be experiencing. 

Hearing loss is most commonly treated by hearing aids which are electronic devices designed to absorb, amplify, and process sound. This significantly increases one’s ability to hear which has numerous benefits including: enhancing communication, improving relationships, and strengthening overall health! 

Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

September is World Alzheimer’s Month

September is World Alzheimer’s Month

With 50 million people worldwide experiencing Alzheimer’s, you might wonder why we have not yet come up with a cure. The answer lies in the mysterious and complicated web of conditions that can afflict a person with dementia, compounded with the vast and uncharted inner workings of the human brain.

Though we do not yet have a cure for Alzheimer’s, we are learning more about some of the preventative tactics that seem to have an effect in some individuals. Controlling high blood pressure, exercising regularly, and quitting smoking may reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease, but there is one more surprising behavior that might work as Alzheimer’s prevention: using hearing aids.

This September, an international effort honors World Alzheimer’s Month by supporting and raising awareness about the condition, including the necessity to fund more research into causes, treatments, prevention, and a cure. Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, and it affects the cognition of not only elderly people.

Understanding Alzheimer’s Disease

Early onset Alzheimer’s can occur in people under 65 years of age, making it imperative to seek out solutions. Some of the early warning signs of Alzheimer’s include struggling to find the words for things that are otherwise common knowledge, getting lost in familiar places, having trouble dealing with finances, bills, or money, losing objects or placing them in odd locations, personality or mood changes, demonstrating uncharacteristically poor judgment, repeating the same question over and over, and taking longer to complete basic activities of daily life. Although these behaviors can be warning signs of Alzheimer’s, they are commonplace mistakes that anyone can make. Don’t be alarmed if you have found yourself performing one of these cognitive errors now and again. Those who are experiencing the warning signs of dementia will have a frequent combination of these symptoms when the condition is close at hand.

Hearing Loss and Dementia

One of the surprising links with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia comes from a seemingly distinct mental function: hearing. Researchers such as Dr. Frank Lin and his team have discovered a significant connection between hearing loss and dementia, demonstrating that those who have hearing loss are not only more likely to develop dementia in the future, but that that are also more likely to have a fast cognitive decline after the onset of the condition. With such strong evidence of a connection, we wonder what mechanism links the two in a given individual. More recent research by Hèléne Amieva, an epidemiologist and biostatistician in Boudeaux, France, found that those who use hearing aids can actually wipe out this negative effect of hearing loss on the likelihood of development dementia. Though people with untreated hearing loss are at greater risk of developing dementia, those who wear hearing aids are no more likely than their counterparts with full hearing ability.

With this evidence in mind, we have to ask ourselves precisely how dementia and hearing loss are linked. Is there a part of the brain where the two conditions are occurring at once? On the contrary, the finding about the use of hearing aids suggests that the actual act of listening is the culprit in leading to cognitive decline. Those who struggle to carry on conversations are posed with a puzzle in what they hear. Rather than full sentences or words, they only pick up random fragments of sound and syllables. You can think of this cacophony of sound as a jigsaw puzzle this is missing some of the pieces. When the brain scrambles to make sense of this mixed bag of sounds, it can lead to a serious cognitive load in the individual. Researchers are wondering now if this struggle to communicate can carry over into other aspects of thought, confusing the process of cognition and even leading to dementia.

Hearing Consultants

With World Alzheimer’s Month upon us, why not take the opportunity to investigate this connection with hearing loss for yourself and the people you love? If you have untreated hearing loss, the task is simple to schedule a hearing exam and to consult with our team at Hearing Consultants. Once you have better information about your hearing ability, you will be able to seek out assistance in the form of hearing aids, which will bring significant benefits to your overall health and well-being.

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.

 

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.

Cognitive Difficulties and Untreated Hearing Loss

Cognitive difficulties and untreated hearing loss

 

September is World Alzheimer’s month and it seems only fitting we talk about untreated hearing loss. Why? Because untreated hearing loss has been linked to the onset of dementia, the most common form of Alzheimer’s. You shouldn’t delay getting a hearing evaluation at Hearing Consultants.

What is Alzheimer’s?

Alzheimer’s is a brain condition that affects parts of the brain that control cognitive processes – thought, memory and language. It is not a normal part of aging. It shrinks parts of the brain cells. Dementia is a form of Alzheimer’s and 60 to 80% of those with dementia have it because of Alzheimer’s. There is no cure, but there are certain things you can do to combat Alzheimer’s and one of them is maintaining good hearing. Numerous studies done here, in Europe and in Asia have discovered what is likely a link between untreated hearing loss and the on set of dementia.

The most common symptoms of dementia are memory loss and the loss of cognitive abilities which in turn leads to withdrawing from society and work.
Forgetfulness should not be confused with dementia although memory loss is one of the first signs. Forgetfulness is misplacing your keys because you took them out of your pocket and set them down. Memory loss is walking into the park where you’ve walked hundreds of times before and not remembering which path to take to get out.

Early stage indicators

Alzheimer’s typically starts to manifest around 65 or so – but can show up earlier. Hearing loss and Alzheimer’s advance slowly, but untreated hearing loss increases the odds of dementia and, unlike dementia – it can be treated!
Some early indicators of Alzheimer’s include: getting lost in familiar places, trouble finding common words to describe common objects, trouble handling money and paying bills, repeating the same question in conversations in a very short span of time, taking longer to complete every day tasks, displaying poor judgement, losing things or misplacing them in odd places, paranoia and distrust of family and caregivers and mood and personality changes.

It’s use it or lose it

We’ve all seen that information on how to keep your brain sharp to avoid Alzheimer’s and that is, actually, one way,. There’s also exercise, eating healthy, and getting high blood pressure treated; obesity is a factor and untreated hearing loss.

The idea is that processing sounds correctly sends auditory signals to the brain. It keeps that part of the brain active and engaged. Over time, if you don’t treat hearing loss, those parts of the brain that process sound start to go dark – literally. Brain imaging of those with untreated hearing loss and dementia show portions of the brain are dark or not being used.

Hearing devices, luckily, fire those parts of the brain back up. Those with dementia and untreated hearing loss do show improvement in cognitive abilities with the addition of hearing aids, studies show.

Nearly 48 million Americans have hearing loss and unfortunately, statistics show many wait between three and five years to get hearing loss treated. During that time, the brain strains to “hear” and process sounds and conversations. This can result in a sort of cognitive overload which may hasten dementia. Scientists explain it as diverting brain power that should be used for cognitive purposes to trying to decipher and process sounds.

Isolation also a factor

Untreated hearing loss can cause you to withdraw from societal interaction. You may not want people to notice you can’t hear things or process a conversation. These interactions also help keep the brain sharp. There are some indications that depression associated with societal withdrawal because of untreated hearing loss can also increase the chances of dementia.

Hearing devices can help

The first step towards hearing health is scheduling a hearing evaluation at Hearing Consultants. A painless hearing exam will determine if you have hearing loss and the staff professionals can then set you on a course for better hearing health. Hearing aid styles these days range from oh-so-tiny devices that fit discreetly inside your ear to over the ear devices tinted to match your skin or hair. Most people can’t tell if it’s a hearing aid or a Bluetooth device! It’s not worth delaying even a day – call for a test today.