Hearing Plus Vision Loss Increases The Odds Of Dementia
A study looks at the impact of having both hearing and vision impairment on the chances of developing dementia.
Researchers have linked hearing impairment and vision impairment individually to an increased chance of developing dementia. However, a new study finds that an individuals chances of developing dementia are significantly higher when they have both conditions.
The risk of developing dementia increases by 86% for individuals who have both hearing and visual impairment.
Evaluation of vision and hearing in older adults may predict who will develop dementia and Alzheimers. This has important implications for identifying potential participants in prevention trials for Alzheimers disease, as well as whether treatments for vision and hearing loss can modify risk for dementia.
Study lead author Phillip H. Hwang, University of Washington
Alzheimers & Dementia: Diagnosis, Assessment & Disease Monitoring .
According to the study, some 33% of people aged 70 and older experience hearing loss, and vision loss affects about 18% of people in this age group. Since these conditions worsen with age, researchers think that a correlation exists between the advance of these conditions and the loss of a persons functionality and mortality.
Previous research found a less obvious connection between hearing or visual loss and the onset of dementia.
Hearing Aids Can Help Those Who Have Alzheimers
If a loved one is showing signs of dementia,help them get their hearing checked sooner than later. Sometimes, undiagnosed hearing loss symptoms are thought to be Alzheimers symptoms when theyre really not.
For those with Alzheimers, hearing loss can aggravate symptoms. A hearing impairment makes it difficult to listen, reply, and respond to verbal cues. It escalates feelings of confusion, isolation, and paranoia.Hearing aids can help relieve Alzheimers symptoms, and several styles are easy for a person with cognitive impairment to use. An American Journal of Epidemiology study found that hearing aids slowed the rate of memory decline and improved the quality of life for Alzheimers patients with hearing loss.Its important to find out the facts. Partner with the hearing care experts at Beltone to understand all the options.
The Auditory Brain: Structural And Functional Substrates For Neurodegeneration
The auditory system has evolved to allow adaptive behavioural responses to complex, dynamic acoustic environments . However, its structural and functional characteristics confer specific vulnerabilities to neurodegenerative pathologies.
Anatomically, the hierarchy of auditory processing relays and in particular the large-scale cerebral networks that process sound information are highly distributed. The spread of pathogenic proteins in neurodegenerative dementias targets these networks rather than the peripheral organs of hearing. Though histopathological data remain limited, neurodegenerative pathologies may preferentially involve auditory association cortex and cortico-cortical projections rather than primary sensory cortex , thereby striking the integrative mechanisms that are most critical for auditory object analysis.
Two additional, related guiding principles of auditory system operation that are critical for adaptive functioning in complex, dynamic auditory environments are functional plasticity and reciprocity. Reciprocity is mediated by recursive, afferent-efferent feedback that supports auditory change detection and top-down tracking of behaviourally relevant sound sources , as well as predictive decoding and filling-in of ambiguous and varying auditory inputs, such as degraded speech . Plasticity enables dynamic neural adaptation to auditory experience.
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Hearing Loss Increases The Risk Of Dementia
Hearing loss is a health-risk time bomb. Present in two thirds of older adults, the impacts of hearing loss go far beyond the struggle to hear, to communicate easily. Hearing loss is not just a nuisance that comes with aging.As a result of research at Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Northwestern, Vanderbilt, and other prominent medical schools and research centers around the world, we now know that hearing loss increases the risks of dementia.
Hearing loss is the largest modifiable risk factor for developing dementia, exceeding that of smoking, high blood pressure, lack of exercise and social isolation.
Dont Ignore Loss Of Hearing
It does not mean that having hearing problems means that you will have dementia. It only means that the risks of having the disease increases. But just the fact that mental decline is more prominent among people with hearing loss should convince them that they have to seek treatment.
Fortunately, there are treatments available for loss of hearing. Hearing aids and cochlear implants, though not permanent solutions, can help combat hearing loss problems.
Dr. Frank Lin says that there are no tests yet that provide answers on whether a hearing aid can help combat the decline of the brain towards dementia. However, he also believes that theres no harm in using technology to allow people without their sense of hearing to reconnect socially.
Dr. Lin was wrong there is a study establishing the link between hearing aids and combatting mental decline. The American Journal of Epidemiology found that Alzheimers patients with hearing loss slowed their rate of cognitive decline when they used hearing aids.
It is vital to address medical concerns as soon as possible. Loss of hearing is just one of those concerns that anyone should not have to live with for whatever reason. The most common reasons why people who have hearing loss dont seek treatment are:
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Can Getting A Hearing Aid Help Prevent Memory Loss
by Katherine Griffin, Katherine Bouton, AARP
Hear Better: Quick tips to care for your hearing aid
En español | It really doesn’t seem fair: Hearing loss, a troublesome fact of life for more than 48 million Americans, according to the Hearing Loss Association of America, may increase the risk of cognitive problems and even dementia. By the time Americans reach their 70s, two-thirds have hearing loss.
“The general perception is that hearing loss is a relatively inconsequential part of aging,” says Frank Lin, an otologist and epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. But recent findings, he says, suggest that it may play a much more important role in brain health than we’ve previously thought.
Hearing Loss As A Risk Factor For Dementia
There is strong evidence to show that:
- mild hearing loss doubles the risk of developing dementia
- moderate hearing loss leads to three times the risk
- severe hearing loss increases the risk five times.
But can steps be taken to reduce or avoid this risk? An international review in medical journal The Lancet, published in 2017, suggested that hearing loss is one of nine key risk factors for dementia that are possibly modifiable .The review suggested that one in three cases of dementia could be prevented if more people looked after their health throughout their lives. Other key risk factors for dementia include social isolation, smoking and depression.
Unaddressed hearing loss in mid-life was predicted to be the highest potentially modifiable risk factor for developing dementia. It is potentially responsible for 9% of cases. This is hugely important. Can addressing hearing loss for example, by using hearing aids reduce this risk? Its vital we find out.
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The Hidden Risks Of Hearing Loss
Hearing loss is frustrating for those who have it and for their loved ones. But recent research from Johns Hopkins reveals that it also is linked with walking problems, falls and even dementia.
In a study that tracked 639 adults for nearly 12 years, Johns Hopkins expert Frank Lin, M.D., Ph.D., and his colleagues found that mild hearing loss doubled dementia risk. Moderate loss tripled risk, and people with a severe hearing impairment were five times more likely to develop dementia.
Major Dementias Have Diverse Auditory Phenotypes
The neurodegenerative diseases that cause canonical dementia syndromes have specific profiles of large-scale, cortico-subcortical network involvement, determined by the patterns of spread of pathogenic proteins . These pathologies have correspondingly diverse clinical phenotypes including prominent auditory cognitive deficits .
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If You Need Help With Hearing Loss
If you’re noticing trouble hearing in yourself or a loved one, don’t delayprompt treatment can help you or your loved one stay engaged in the world and avoid social isolation, a common problem for people with untreated hearing loss. Hearing loss is exhausting, but it doesn’t have to be. To find a hearing care professional, see our directory of consumer-reviewed hearing clinics to find a hearing specialist or audiologist near you.
What Research On Dementia And Hearing Loss Reveals
Most recently, a study published in July 2021 found that people who struggle to hear speech in noise were more likely to develop dementia than those with normal hearing, as measured over an 11-year period. This was the first time that speech in noise was specifically studied. However, the study wasn’t capable of determining if untreated hearing loss caused the dementia, only that they’re linked.
In a different study, a team at Johns Hopkins looked at cognitive impairment scores over six years for nearly 2,000 seniors. They concluded that those with hearing loss had a faster decline. The volunteers were all cognitively normal when the research began. But by the studys end, people with hearing loss were 24 percent more likely to meet the standard of cognitive impairment compared to people with normal hearing.
Another approach is to ask people whether theyve noticed a change. Measures of subjective decline can pick up losses before theyll show up on a test. A large studyusing data drawn from more than 10,000 men age 62 and upran over eight years. It found that the greater their hearing loss, the more likely men were to express concerns about their memory or thinking over time. With even a mild hearing loss, their chance of reporting cognitive decline was 30 percent higher than among those who did not report any hearing loss. With moderate or severe hearing loss, the risk was 42 and 52 percent higher.
More: Slight hearing loss linked to cognitive decline in new study
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Help Fight Hearing Loss And Dementia
If you find you have hearing loss, its important to treat it as well as you can as soon as you can. There may be a link between hearing loss and dementia, but that isnt the only reason. Wouldnt you like to be able to hear your grandchildren laugh when youre eighty? If youre looking for a way to treat your hearing loss, contact us at Nano Advanced Hearing Technology. We provide you hearing aids without the middle man. Contact us today to reclaim your hearing and your life.
Lifestyle Habits That Promote Brain Health
1. Keep your mind active
You can keep learning throughout your life no matter how far you got in school.
Studies do show a lower risk of dementia if your level of education is high school or better. But studies also show that if you can maintain an 8th-grade level of reading or literacy throughout your life, it will help keep your mind active, says Dr. Factora.
You can also engage in hobbies that help keep you learning or challenged. You may enjoy playing board games, ballroom dancing, playing a musical instrument or learning a foreign language. Any new activity that forces you to learn and increase your skill over time develops new neural connections in the brain.
These healthy new neural connections may help you bypass any damage to the brain associated with dementia or Alzheimers disease, Dr. Factora explains.
2. Maintain a good social network
Social connections help keep your brain healthy as you age. So its important to maintain good relationships with friends and family.
If youre constantly engaged in a give-and-take conversation and are around a lot of people, that stimulation will have a positive effect on your brain health, says Dr. Factora.
3. Exercise regularly
Exercise particularly cardiovascular exercise protects the brain as well, says Dr. Factora. He recommends getting at least 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise at least five days each week.
4. Stick to a Mediterranean diet
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Hearing Loss Related Complications
If your ears cannot pick up sounds, your hearing nerves will send only fewer signals to your brain, and thus depriving your brain of stimulation, it once had. When you are trying hard to listen, your brain may go through cognitive overload. This means that when your brain is working hard to decode what others are saying, it doesnt store the information in your memory as well as if you are listening with ease. This is one way that hearing loss can affect memory and contribute to a quicker decline in thinking.
Here are a few hearing loss-related complications:
Hearing Impairment: Cause Canary Or Corollary Of Dementia
The complex pathophysiological relations between hearing impairment and dementia remain to be fully defined. Impoverished sensory fidelity due to peripheral hearing loss or disturbed subcortical auditory trafficking will potentially have effects both on auditory cognition and more general cognitive functions such as attention, executive processing and perceptual learning , leading to vicious cycling. Hearing loss might therefore produce both syndromic and generic cognitive signatures. The balance of these is likely to depend on stimulus and task demands as well as the particular neurodegenerative process. Emerging epidemiological evidence suggests that hearing impairment may potentiate neurodegeneration, perhaps via an interaction of aberrant auditory activity with culprit proteinopathies in vulnerable neural circuits . Indeed, hearing impairment might constitute a facilitating cause of neurodegenerative disease evolution, an early warning canary for impending cognitive disaster or an accompaniment of established dementia: these non-exclusive mechanisms would have mutually reinforcing consequences for auditory brain function.
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What This Means For People With Alzheimers
First off, its important to note that having hearing loss doesnt mean your loved one is going to develop Alzheimers. Many people begin to have trouble hearing in their senior years and manage to live out those years without experiencing dementia. But the link does suggest to us that if we can do something to minimize hearing loss, theres a decent chance that we can also minimize the likelihood of getting Alzheimers or the severity of it if someone does get it.
In fact, theres an additional study that bears this theory out. Researchers at a hospital in Paris provided a number of people with deafness in at least one ear with a cochlear implant and tracked their cognitive performance before and after receiving the implant along with auditory rehabilitation. 80% of the people studied showed cognitive improvement within a year. For comparison, those are better results by nearly double than any FDA-approved drugs for treating dementia.
Any senior experiencing hearing loss should make a point to seek out treatments for it. Not only will it make it much easier to communicate with friends and loved ones and continue to participate in the many everyday activities that require hearing, but it could help them avoid or stave off Alzheimers for longer.
Association Between Hearing Loss And Incident Dementia
Twelve prospective cohort studies were analyzed in the meta-analysis of hearing loss and risk of all-cause dementia. Since one study provided separate data according to the number of ears affected , two studies according to the severity of hearing loss , and the others according to the age of the participants , these datasets were independently examined. As a result, 17 datasets were available for the outcome of all-cause dementia . Pooled results showed that hearing loss elevated the risk of subsequent dementia . Sensitivity analysis also showed consistent results . Subgroup analysis by the diagnostic methods for hearing loss, validation strategy for dementia, follow-up duration, and adjustment of APOE genotype also showed consistent results . Pooled analyses with five studies showed that loss was independently associated with a higher incidence of AD .
Figure 2. Forest plots for the meta-analysis concerning the association between hearing loss and the subsequent incidence of all-cause dementia.
Figure 3. Subgroup analyses for the outcome of all-cause dementia. Subgroup analysis according to the diagnostic methods for hearing loss, and subgroup analysis according to the validation strategy for dementia.
Figure 4. Subgroup analyses for the outcome of all-cause dementia. Subgroup analysis according to the mean follow-up duration, and subgroup analysis according to whether the status of the apolipoprotein E genotype was adjusted.
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New Research Links Alzheimers And Hearing Loss
Over the past few years, researchers at Johns Hopkins have done studies looking at how hearing loss may influence cognitive decline. In each case, they met with a number of seniors over several years and tracked which ones developed Alzheimers and how quickly the disease progressed. In each study, the people with hearing loss had higher rates of dementia.
In one study, people with hearing loss were 24% more likely to have Alzheimers. In another, they found that the worse the hearing loss was, the more likely the person was to develop dementia.
These studies dont suggest that hearing loss itself causes dementia, but it does show that theres a link between the two. The researchers have a few theories on why that might be:
Study Confirms The Link Between Hearing Loss And Dementia In Older Adults
On World Hearing Day, the BIHIMA highlight an important new study into the link between hearing loss and the risk of dementia in older adults.
Conducted by Professor Helene Amieva in France, the study followed 3,777 participants aged over 65 for up to 25 years. Of these, 1,289 reported hearing problems and 2,290 reported no trouble. The researchers also looked at the impact of hearing loss on depression, disability and death.
The study found an increased risk of disability and dementia in those with hearing loss, and, in men only, an increased risk of depression. These associations were not found in the participants using hearing aids.
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