Hearing Loss & Cognitive Decline

Hearing Loss & Cognitive Decline (1)

Hearing loss affects an estimated 48 million people in the US alone and has far reaching side effects past obvious issues with hearing. Ultimately, hearing loss is a communication issue making it more difficult to connect to the people in your life. It can affect your personal life as well as your career, reverberating into your sense of self-worth, self-esteem and sense of independence. In addition to emotional impacts of hearing loss, struggling to hear can cause exhaustion. While we hear with our ears, we listen with our brain. When we cannot receive ample audio signals to our brain, cognitive decline can occur.

The Connection Between Hearing Loss and Cognitive Decline

Numerous studies have found a strong connection between hearing loss and cognitive decline. Age related hearing loss is the most common type of hearing loss, affecting one in three people over 65, and half of those over 75. While cognitive decline occurs as a natural part of aging, age related hearing loss, seems to escalate cognitive decline. Similarly, rates of cognitive decline, leading to dementia increase as you reach 65 years. The Alzheimer’s society reports that “Above the age of 65, a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or vascular dementia doubles roughly every 5 years. It is estimated that dementia affects one in 14 people over 65 and one in six over 80.”

What is Dementia?

Dementia is actually a grouping of many conditions related to the loss of cognitive functioning. This condition is estimated to affect half of all people over 85 years, while the most common type of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease affects 62 million people in the US alone. Dementia affects thinking, remembering, reasoning and behavioral abilities to such an extent that it makes it hard to complete normal daily tasks and activities. Often people affected by dementia cannot control their emotions, and their personalities may seem to change. Dementia is caused by damage to brain cells which interferes with the ability of brain cells to communicate with one another. However, several studies have found that untreated hearing loss, depending on the severity, can increase the risk of dementia significantly.

Hearing Loss Can Mimic Cognitive Decline 

Often people suspect that they are developing dementia when the symptoms of hearing loss can mimic this devastating brain disease. If you struggle to understand speech, or feel exhausted by regular conversation, you may be dealing with undiagnosed hearing loss. It’s important to check your hearing regularly to detect a hearing loss before it can develop further. Hearing loss has been linked to cognitive decline which can increase the likelihood of dementia.

What Research on Dementia and Hearing Loss Reveals

A Johns Hopkins study led by Dr. Frank R. Lin  examined cognitive impairment scores in over 2000 seniors, over a six year period. The study found that patients with hearing loss had a much faster and significant decline.

Can Hearing Aids Reverse Cognitive Decline?

The answer to this is still up for debate, however, several studies suggest that there is a chance that they can. Hearing aids can amplify the sounds you struggle with, making it much easier to follow conversation in noisy and quiet environments. This can increase connections, self-esteem and slowly lift chronic depression. Hearing aids also will allow your brain to take a well-deserved break from constant straining. Some studies suggest that hearing aid can delay the onset of cognitive impairment and dementia.

Seeking Treatment

If you find that you are struggling to hear the people in your life, this is a serious issue. The sooner you address even slight signs of hearing loss, the greater chance you can delay or prevent the development of cognitive decline and dementia. Dementia destroys lives, takes away memories from its victims and currently there is no cure for this disease. It’s important to take every precaution possible to prevent it from progressing. Prompt treatment can help you or your loved one stay connected to the activities and the people they love, avoiding social isolation and loneliness, commonly associated with hearing loss and dementia. Call today to set up an appointment for a hearing test. You have too much to lose to put this off another day! 

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.

Why People Avoid Treating Hearing Loss – and Why You Should Schedule a Hearing Test!

Why People Avoid Treating Hearing Loss - and Why You Should Schedule a Hearing Test!

 

There are lots of reasons people give for avoiding a hearing test, but there are even more reasons why you should get a hearing test. So, stop putting it off and call Hearing Consultants today for a painless hearing evaluation that will make your life better!

Avoiding bad news

We get it. No one likes bad news and taking a hearing test seems to be inviting bad  news. But hearing loss can be treated and we’re here to get you through all those issues you think are part of the ‘bad’ news.

You are not alone

In the United States hearing loss is the third most prevalent medical issue, ranked behind arthritis and heart disease. A lot of adults wait up to five years after they think they are experiencing hearing loss to get it checked and corrected. Let’s face it, no one likes bad news. And avoiding a hearing test is like, well, not getting bad news. Are you using any of the following reasons for not getting a test?

You think it will take surgery to fix the problem. Not likely, only five to 10% of hearing loss cases need a surgical option to correct them. For the rest, one of the pretty awesome new hearing aid options will work just great!

I only have hearing loss in one ear. Actually, you probably have hearing loss in both ears, but one ear is better than the other, so you are favoring that ear. How disconcerting for someone you may be talking to if you keep shifting your heard to one side or re-adjusting for your “good” ear. Hearing aids can correct the issue in both ears and give you better comprehension of what is going on.

Hearing loss means I am old. Well, hearing loss can be a natural progression of aging, but hearing loss affects all age groups. Six million people between the ages of 18 and 44 have hearing loss and more than 1 million school-age children have hearing loss.

My family doctor would have told me if I need hearing aids. While hearing associations are getting more and more general physicians and internists to routinely recommend hearing tests – many still don’t. It is likely you seem to be hearing fine in the quiet doctor’s office. Perhaps you are turning up the television and radio more and more to hear it, but that’s not a question routinely asked by a family doctor.

Hearing loss is a normal part of aging and I will just get used to it. You didn’t say that when you got your glasses prescription changed, did you? So why wouldn’t you get your hearing corrected?

Hearing aids are ugly. Nonsense! We aren’t talking about you getting those big flesh colored pieces of plastic your grandparents had. Hearing aids now are tiny, discreet turbo-charged wonders that let you stream from your television, your phone or your laptop.

Why you should get a hearing test

Injuries from falls are one of the main reasons seniors find themselves in long-term care facilities. Loss of hearing affects your balance and makes you accident prone. It can impact your driving ability. Will you hear a siren? Will you get distracted trying to follow a conversation in your car and watch the roadway? Do you want to risk losing your independence and your driver’s license?

People with untreated hearing loss tend to start isolating themselves because they don’t want to deal with the challenges of following a conversation in a group setting. Or, they don’t want to be ridiculed for making an inappropriate comment because they misunderstood what was being said. This leads to depression and a decline in cognitive abilities because you are no longer exercising your brain in a lot of ways that keeps it sharp.

What are you waiting for?

There are hearing aid models that fit behind the ear, have tiny receivers that fit over the ear – and look cool and trendy considering they seem to be a phone accessory – and hearing aids that are invisible and fit entirely in the ear canal. There are special hearing aids to help you hear music better, that can adjust to wind noise, so you can enjoy the outdoors, and digital hearing aids just need to be recharged instead of you having to worry about batteries.  And, you can test drive the model you chose so you won’t be spending money on something you won’t use.

Get energized, get re-engaged and get a hearing exam today. Call Hearing Consultants and get start enjoying all your senses again.