Alzheimer’s and The Hearing Loss Connection
More than five million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s. It’s a devastating and heartbreaking disease. Those who have watched a family member or friend lose them selves to it know this all to well. The symptoms of Alzheimer’s include depression, memory loss, and confusion. While there is presently no known cure research shows that hearing instruments may help avoid or delay the effects of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. One big question of late is, can hearing aids also improve the quality of life for someone already suffering from Alzheimer’s?
Alzheimer’s Patients with Hearing Loss
Hearing loss exacerbates the effects of the disease, making it more difficult for sufferers to communicate with loved ones. This, in turn, increases the feelings of confusion and isolation. However, every day in America, hearing loss often goes untreated, untested and even undiagnosed. The lack of response to verbal cues is most of the time attributed to decreased brain function rather than looking at the loss of hearing. This simple truth - hearing happens in the brain, not the ears - cannot be overemphasized. When hearing loss is untreated, a portion of the brain’s processing is literally disconnected.
Imagine the relentless frustration patients, and caregivers alike, often endure due to difficulties surrounding communication. A simple hearing test can determine if other factors are at play or if hearing loss itself is the culprit of the confusion. Some patients may just have wax buildup, in which case cleaning the ears can help. But if hearing loss is found, research suggests hearing aids may be extremely beneficial for communication as well as for brain health.
Hearing Aids and Alzheimer’s Disease
The results of a 2013 study featured in the American Journal of Epidemiology concluded that “individuals who used hearing aids showed slower rates of memory decline compared to participants with hearing loss who did not use hearing aids.” Additionally, the study found the cognitive decline of hearing impaired individuals who used hearing aids to be only slightly higher than those with normal hearing. *
Improving How Alzheimer’s Patients Hear the World
While it may be premature to suggest all individuals with hearing loss and Alzheimer’s be given hearing aids - more research is needed to draw firm conclusions- the studies completed thus far have shown promising outcomes. As we learn more about Alzheimer’s and it's connection to hearing loss, anything that may improve a sufferer's quality of life and how they interact with the world is well worth further examination.
Your chance of getting a cognitive disease increases by up to 5 times, when you have an untreated hearing loss present. This is very powerful ammo for those who want to keep their health at optimum levels and avoid a future battle with hearing loss!
November is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month
We at Sound Hearing Care want to offer a donation of $50 to the Alzheimer’s Foundation for every purchase of new hearing aids in November. Schedule a free consultation today and help Sound Hearing Care fight this ugly disease with your purchase! Help your health and the health of others.
*Hearing Impairment and Cognitive Decline
American Journal of Epidemiology, Volume 181, Issue 9, 1 May 2015