About the Connection Between Alzheimer, Dementia and Hearing Loss

Written by on December 6, 2012 in Health - No comments | Print this page

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Because hearing loss is a very common phenomenon among the elderly, it is also often ignored. More than 80% of those affected by it do not take any practical steps to treat the condition.

It is a gradual process that worsens over the years and therefore, in many cases it is not an obvious disability. Beyond the practical difficulties that hearing loss imposes, those that suffer from the ailment may become frustrated and even socially isolated. People that are deprived of fully enjoying some of the most basic enjoyments of life such as attending social gatherings, going to the theatre and listening to music may fall into a condition of depression which can even increase their chances of death from heart disease.

Hearing Loss is a natural and very common disability, it is not something to be ashamed of and should definitely not be ignored. It is very important, especially for people over the age of 60, to undergo hearing tests regularly and to treat any impairments with proper hearing aids.

New Discoveries Connecting Hearing Loss With Other Ailments

It has now been discovered that Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease may also be associated with hearing conditions. According to recent studies, elderly people that experience hearing loss are more likely to suffer from those two ailments. Not only that, the worse the hearing condition is, the more the risk increases and people with severe hearing conditions are five times as likely to suffer from Alzheimer and dementia.

The reason for this common pathology is that the brain of people with hearing impairments may be overwhelmed over time with the continuous effort of deciphering sounds. This continuous strain may cause them to be more vulnerable to dementia. In other words, because the words and messages that the brain receives are garbled, it has to dedicate many resources to properly decode them. In many cases, the resources may come at the expense of other brain functions. Social isolation, also associated with hearing problems, may also increase chances for conditions of dementia.

As for Alzheimer, studies have indicated that symptoms of this condition, such as stress, fatigue and memory impairments are worsened by hearing loss. Hearing aids can definitely prevent or significantly delay Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. They can also assist people that already suffer from Alzheimer to reduce symptoms.

Conclusions

There are two conclusions to be drawn: the first one is that hearing aids should be covered by medical insurance companies, mainly because many people cannot afford to pay by themselves for hearing aids which may be costly.

The second conclusion has to do with awareness. Especially for the elderly, it is absolutely essential to undergo an annual hearing evaluation. As mentioned above, hearing loss is a gradual process and that sometimes makes it difficult to discover. The earlier hearing impairments are discovered, the easier it is to treat them and stop their progression.

Proper guidance by an audiologist and appropriate hearing aids can definitely improve life quality and allow elderly people suffering from hearing conditions to enjoy normal day to day activities, such as talking on the phone, attend public gatherings and watch television. Awareness and professional guidance can also significantly reduce the chances of suffering from additional symptoms such as depression, heart conditions, Alzheimer and dementia.

This is a guest post by Tom Regev, professional writer for the Hearing Aids Group promoting professional audiology and advanced hearing aids solutions. More information about hearing impairments can be found in the Hearing Advice Blog.

Image courtesy of Ohmega1982 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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