Progression of Dementia and Hearing Loss

Progression of Dementia and Hearing Loss


We know by now that we need to eat the right foods, need to work out, and do stuff that is healthy for us. Because maintaining good health does not happen by accident, it requires work and smart lifestyle choices. But sometimes when we wake up at 6 am to hit the gym before work or shunning the donuts in breakfast, it’s easy to lose sight of for what are we doing all these. So here are some top articles choices that can keep you motivated to lead a healthy lifestyle and keep diseases at bay.

Progression of Dementia and Hearing Loss

According to a 2014 study by researchers from Johns Hopkins and the National Institute on Aging (1), the risk of dementia is significantly increased in individuals with unmanaged hearing loss. It is believed that over 35 million Americans are affected by hearing loss and the number is expected to increase to 40 million by 2025 according to The MarkeTrak VIII survey (2). The most frequent cause of hearing loss is the aging process.

, Progression of Dementia and Hearing Loss

What Is Age Related Hearing Loss

Decline in hearing ability due to aging is very common and perhaps inevitable. Effects of this decline can start to be seen as early as a person’s mid 40s, but far more commonly picked up in people over 65. The inner ear contains tiny cells known as hair cells. (If viewed under a microscope they have structures that look like hair poking out from their tops.) These tiny hair cells help collect the information contained within sound vibrations and pass on the information via the auditory nerve to the brain. As the body matures, hair cells can die or deteriorate, which leads to an inability to capture those crucial aspects of sound such as its frequency and intensity. A cure would be to simply grow new hair cells, but unlike certain species, the human body cannot regenerate these cells. One hope is that stem cell research (3) will bring this possibility closer on this front. But, at the moment, age-related hearing loss is permanent. However, it can be managed so its effects are less noticeable on an individual’s quality of life. When people refrain from any help other health implications may arise, such as the acceleration of dementia.

Dementia and Unmanaged Hearing Loss

Individuals with unmanaged hearing loss are often socially isolated. Inability to hear makes it very difficult to communicate with family, friends and caregivers. Attempting to hear using whatever hearing is left can cause immense mental strain on the individual. As hearing loss worsens, and in order to avoid the strain, individuals can simply find it easier to disengage from social interaction. Researchers suspect that untreated hearing loss and dementia are tied together (4).

  • Social isolation, depression, and anxiety may lead to the progression of dementia (an accelerator of Dementia, not initiator)
  • When only certain words are heard, the cognitive load on the brain to reallocate resources to hear, comes on the expense of other brain functions

Treating Hearing Loss

Any management program must commence by establishing current hearing levels and investigating its cause. Hearing impairment can be discussed with a family doctor although it is recommended to attend a hearing test at a hearing center. This will measure an individual’s hearing against ‘normal’ hearing and classify any hearing loss level as mild, moderate, severe or profound.

If age related hearing loss (otherwise known as presbycusis) is found, solution(s) revolve around making some lifestyle changes and using aids to amplify sound. There are personal aids such as in or on the ear hearing aids that amplify external sound and these can be used safely on a day-by-day basis. Beyond hearing aids, there are multitudes of ALDs or Assistive Listening Devices that comprise of devices with additional volume and/or sensory triggers. For example, telephones with bright light in addition to amplified sound, or alarm clocks with bright flashing lights and vibration pads in addition to amplified sound. None of these will ever cure hearing loss, but will significantly mitigate its impact on quality of life.

 

Image courtesy of [dream designs] at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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