September is recognized internationally as World Alzheimer’s Month. Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) is dedicated to increasing awareness and decreasing the stigma surrounding Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia throughout this month.
Not many people know that hearing loss is associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Many recent studies indicate that your risk of developing dementia can rise with untreated hearing loss, making the condition develop more quickly.
What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
Alzheimer’s disease is the most prevalent type of dementia. Dementia is a brain disorder that impacts parts of the brain that are responsible for intellect, memory, and language. Alzheimer’s disease and associated dementias can seriously impact the capacity of an individual to perform everyday tasks.
The danger of developing Alzheimer’s disease rises with age. The majority of individuals who live with Alzheimer’s are over 65 years of age. People under 65 may also develop Alzheimer’s disease, but this is not widespread.
The connection between hearing loss and Alzheimer’s Disease
This month, people across the globe are talking about how to prevent the disease. Scientists are not in agreement over what causes Alzheimer’s disease, which makes advice about preventing the disease very difficult. Apart from research on high blood pressure and obesity as possible triggers, some have hypothesized that hearing loss could be a contributing factor.
Cognitive decline is intimately connected to the development of dementia, and Dr. Frank Lin, an otologist and epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, recently discovered a link between hearing loss and cognitive decline. His research monitored the general cognitive skills of nearly 2,000 individuals with an average age of 77, over a period of 6 years. Those who began the study with hearing loss were 24 per cent more prone to cognitive decline. This runs counter to the idea that hearing loss has no impact on other parts of the body. The conclusion of the research was that hearing loss seemed to speed up cognitive decline.
Another study noted how the use of hearing aids can aid in cognitive development. The study, helmed by Isabelle Mosnier of Assistance Publique-Hopitaux de Paris in France, investigated a group of adults aged 65-85 who had hearing loss. Upon receiving hearing aids, 80 per cent of them improved their cognitive abilities within a year.
Although research is still ongoing, the benefits of hearing treatment for cognitive abilities has already been recognized by many researchers. For example, P. Murali Doraiswamy, the co-author of The Alzheimer’s Action Plan, points out that not many physicians make the link between hearing loss and dementia, when they should. He suggests that hearing aids should be recommended as a course of treatment in order to prevent cognitive decline.
How hearing aids could help
Treating hearing loss with hearing aids can potentially help in several ways.
Keep social connections strong
People with hearing loss have trouble understanding what other people are saying in noisy environments like bars and restaurants. This makes them derive less enjoyment from these social occasions, which make them less likely to be socially active as a result. As such, they could remain indoors more often and see fewer individuals as a consequence. Without consistent social interaction cognitive abilities could suffer.
Hearing aids can help those with hearing loss be more socially and physically independent. Many now come with features that help facilitate understanding in noisy settings so users don’t need to be worried about understanding others in these settings.
Maintain a healthy, active lifestyle
High blood pressure and obesity have been connected to Alzheimer’s disease. That’s why it is recommend that people of all ages engage in 30 minutes of exercise daily and eating a healthy diet.
Hearing aids can help complement an active lifestyle. There are models in sweat and dust-resistant designs, and some have noise and wind reduction settings for the next time you are out on a windy day.
Clear Hearing and Audiology
Only 20 percent of those who need hearing aids actually use them to treat hearing loss. People wait up to seven years before they do something about their hearing loss. Even though research is ongoing about the connection between hearing loss and dementia, treating your hearing loss will benefit your physical safety, your mental health, and your financial state. The first step is to take a hearing test with us. Contact us today to set up an appointment!