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Is There A Connection Between Hearing Loss And Dementia

Misdiagnosis And Further Links

How Hearing Loss and Dementia are Related

Hearing loss can sometimes be misdiagnosed as dementia. People with dementia can have difficulty communicating with others, including finding the right words, or signs, for what they want to say. They may have difficulty processing what theyve heard, particularly if there are distractions. According to some researchers, this difficulty in processing information can be one of the first signs of cognitive impairment.

We also know that hearing loss can speed up the onset of dementia, or make the symptoms of dementia appear worse, and dementia can heighten the impact of hearing loss.

Symptoms Of Sight And Hearing Loss

The symptoms of sight and hearing loss can be similar to some of the early signs of dementia.

For example, you might become confused about where you are or struggle to follow a conversation. This can make it hard to tell what is down to dementia and what is down to sight or hearing loss. This can make diagnosing dementia in someone with sight or hearing loss more difficult. It can also make diagnosing sight and hearing problems in a person with dementia more difficult as well.

Tips: communicating with someone with dementia

Get tips on how to communicate with somebody who has dementia, including what to say, how to speak, and how to listen.

Dementia and sight loss are both more common as you get older.

There are many causes of sight loss in people with dementia, including:

  • eye conditions, such as cataracts or macular degeneration
  • other health conditions, such as stroke
  • normal ageing of the eye.

These are all ways in which the visual system can be damaged, causing a person to lose vision.

However, people with dementia can also have visual difficulties because the dementia affects the parts of their brain that handle visual information coming from the eyes. This means they will have visual problems, but have healthy eyes.

Peripheral And Central Origin Of Arhl: A Link Between Central Auditory Processing Disorders And Cognitive Decline

As previously mentioned, diagnosis of CAPD is clinically argue and results of auditory central testing controversial. From 2009 to 2011, the America Academy of Audiology Task Force on Central Presbycusis reviewed 145 papers to understand the evidence on age-related changes in auditory portions of the central nervous system and the impact of such changes on everyday communication and function. Based on this review of the literature, the authors concluded that the evidence for the existence of central presbycusis in the isolated entity is insufficient 48. On the other hand, recent findings support the existence of central presbycusis as a multifactorial condition that involves age- and/or disease-related changes in the auditory system and brain 44.

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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 .

Hearing Loss As A Risk Factor For Dementia

Is There A Connection Between Hearing Loss And 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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Wearing Hearing Aids Means Im Old And Im Not Ready For That

Its normal to feel worried that hearing loss means youre agingand to want to hide it. Plenty of people with a hearing impairment sit silently rather than joining in conversations and activities, because they fear that hearing problems will make them seem helpless or less than competent. The truth: Connecting with others can help your brain stay younger and keep you involved with life.

Making Communication As Clear As Possible

There are some general approaches that people can take to communicate more effectively with people with hearing loss all of which are applicable to communicating with a person with dementia.

Here are some of the top communication tips that Action on Hearing Loss suggest:

  • Find a suitable place to talk, with good lighting and away from noise and distractions.
  • Make sure you have face-to-face contact with the person you are talking to.
  • Get the listeners attention before you start speaking, maybe by waving or tapping them on the arm.
  • Even if someone is wearing hearing aids it doesnt mean they can hear you perfectly. Ask if they need to lipread.
  • Speak clearly but not too slowly, and dont exaggerate your lip movements this can make it harder to lipread.
  • Use natural facial expressions and gestures.
  • Dont shout. It can be uncomfortable for hearing aid users and it looks aggressive.
  • If someone doesnt understand what youve said, dont keep repeating it. Try saying it in a different way instead.
  • Check that the person youre talking to is following you during the conversation. Use plain language and dont waffle. Avoid jargon and unfamiliar abbreviations.
  • To make it easy to lipread, dont cover your mouth with your hands or clothing.

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Hearing Aids Can Help Prevent Dementia

Numerous studies show that hearing aids not only improve a persons hearingthey also help preserve a persons independence, mental abilities, emotional and physical health, and work, home, and social lives. A full, happy life keeps your brain active.

Early identification and treatment of a potential hearing loss helps minimize risks later in life.

Wondering what a hearing test is like? Find out what to expect here.

Study Population And Cognitive Assessments

The Link Between Hearing Loss and Dementia

The Cache County Study on Memory, Health, and Aging is a longitudinal inquiry into the prevalence and incidence of dementia in relation to genetic and environmental risk factors that has been conducted on residents of Cache County, Utah. Beginning enrollment in 1995, the study has followed residents of the county age 65 years or older.

Institutional review boards of Utah State University, Duke University and the Johns Hopkins University approved this study and written informed consent was obtained at each interview with participants. All permanent residents of Cache County, UT, age 65 years and older on January 1, 1995 were recruited to this study. A total of 5,092 individuals were enrolled and evaluated for cognitive status using a multi-stage dementia ascertainment protocol described previously. A subsample of 359 cases of prevalent dementia and another 188 with incomplete cognitive evaluations were removed from the sample.

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The Impact Of Hearing Aids And Cochlear Implant On Eldery Deaf Patients

Untreated moderate to profound hearing loss may develop a cascade of conditions including communication difficulties, social isolation, depression, falls and decreased quality of life that could be counteracted by hearing aids and cochlear implants.

An interdisciplinary approach and collaboration between otolaryngologists and neuro-psychologists is mandatory to investigate and address hearing loss in the context of brain and cognitive aging for a correct management of older patients and the decision for hearing aids or cochlear implant .

Mayo Clinic Minute: The Hearing Loss And Dementia Connection

Hearing loss as you age is more than just an inconvenience. Some people begin to withdraw from their social connections because not being able to hear can be frustrating and embarrassing. Dr. Colin Driscoll, a Mayo Clinic head and neck surgeon, says hearing loss also may contribute to dementia symptoms.

Watch: The Mayo Clinic Minute

Journalists: Broadcast-quality video is in the downloads at the end of this post. Please “Courtesy: Mayo Clinic News Network.” Read the script.

“We’ve always thought of hearing loss as just ‘Ah, it’s one of those things that happens as we get older,'” says Dr. Driscoll.

But he says hearing loss can start a cascade of health issues, including making symptoms of dementia worse.

“If you have hearing loss, now you’re devoting more and more of your cognitive ability to trying to understand what’s being said. My brain is working overtime to sort the words out and understand the sentences. So if I’m peeling away a whole bunch of my energy to apply it to the simple task of listening and understanding speech, it’s not available then for my other activities. It’s not causing Alzheimer’s disease or a structural dementia in that way, but it’s leading to a change in your cognitive ability,” says Dr. Driscoll.

Most hearing loss can be improved with hearing aids or cochlear implants.

A simple hearing test followed by proper interventions can improve your quality of life and your health.

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What About Tinnitus And Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s disease is slightly more common among people who have tinnitus than people who don’t, at least one study has indicated. In that study, conducted in Taiwan, 3.1% of tinnitus patients developed Alzheimer’s over a 10-year period, compared to 2% of those who did not have tinnitus. However, scientists do not know why this relationship exists, and more research is needed.

Management Of Hearing Loss

Link between hearing loss, dementia and depression ...

There are various options for the management of hearing loss. The most commonly used equipment is digital hearing aids. These work by amplifying noise and delivering this to the air canal. It is important that hearing aids are cleaned and maintained and batteries replaced as appropriate.

Audiology clinics usually provide maintenance and battery replacement services. In some areas there are services for care homes where staff are supported to carry out basic maintenance of hearing aids. Care providers should be aware of how to access these.

Other equipment or interventions include cochlear implants, which are suitable for people with severe or profound deafness who cannot use hearing aids.

Assistive technology such as FM or infrared listening equipment and induction loops are also available again, this works by amplifying and directing sounds. Other assistive devices for daily living include vibrating alarm clocks, flashing doorbells and flashing smoke alarms.

We can also make adjustments to a persons environment that can help manage hearing loss, for instance, limiting the amount of background noise and ensuring good lighting to enable people to lipread.

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Hearing Loss And Dementia: The Important Connection

Chances are youve heard a lot about dementia, but are you aware that this is not the name of one condition? Rather, this is a medical term that encompasses several symptoms. To understand how hearing loss can contribute to it, lets first take a more complete look at the causes and symptoms of dementia.

Hearing Loss And Dementia By The Numbers

  • People with a mild hearing loss are nearly twice as likely to develop dementia as those with normal hearing
  • People with a moderate hearing loss are three times as likely to develop dementia
  • People with a severe loss are five times as likely to develop dementia
  • For every 10-decibel increase in hearing loss, the extra risk for dementia jumps by 20 percent. For people over the age of 60, 36 percent of their dementia risk is associated with hearing loss.

Many people who have mild hearing loss do not even realize it. Start with the online hearing testits a fast, easy way to learn about your hearing.

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Help With Hearing Aids

There is a lot to learn about using hearing aids and this can be particularly difficult if a person has dementia. Care and support staff can play a vital role in ensuring that a person with dementia benefits reliably from their hearing aid.

Here are some basic tips from Action on Hearing Loss:

  • Make sure hearing aids are checked every day to make sure they are working and that the person is wearing them correctly.
  • Learn how to use the t-switch and controls on hearing aids, how to change batteries and how to clean hearing aids
  • Make sure arrangements are in place for hearing aid re-tubing, repairs and battery replacement. Local audiology departments should be able to help with this.
  • Try to minimise the number of lost hearing aids, and ensure that lost hearing aids are replaced as quickly as possible.
  • Get to know who to consult to examine ears for wax and to arrange ear syringing, where appropriate.

Hearing Aid Myths That Hold You Back

Ted Venema Talks: Hearing Loss and Dementia

Can hearing aids reduce these risks? Lin hopes to find out in a new study, still in the planning stages. These studies have never been done before, he notes. What we do know is that theres no downside to using hearing aids. They help most people who try them. And in those people, they can make all the difference in the worldallowing people to reengage with friends and family and to be more involved again.

Although nearly 27 million Americans age 50 and older have hearing loss, only one in seven uses a hearing aid. If you think your hearing has diminished, its worth making an appointment with an audiologist for a hearing check, Lin says. If you have hearing loss, dont let the following myths keep you from getting help.

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Hearing Loss And Social Isolation

The third link between hearing loss and Alzheimers is social isolation. A study by The National Council on the Aging of 2,300 hearing impaired adults found that people with untreated hearing loss are more likely to experience loneliness, worry, depression, anxiety, and paranoiaand are less likely to join organized and casual social activities. When a person withdraws from life, their risk for dementia intensifies. In short, the less we stimulate our brains by interacting with other people, places, and thingsand the less we use our brains to hear and listenthe more quickly our brains decline, putting us at greater risk for dementia.

The Connection Between Hearing Loss And Dementia

There are many risk factors associated with dementia, but one of the most recently discovered correlations is a condition that few would consider as even related to the disease. Research has identified hearing loss as a potential indicator of the development of dementia.

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Data Extracting And Quality Evaluation

Two authors implemented database search, data extraction, and study quality assessment separately. If disagreements occurred, they were discussed with the corresponding author. These data were recorded: author and study year participant characteristics, including number of participants included, mean age, and sex methods for the evaluation of hearing loss follow-up durations methods for validation of dementia or AD outcomes, and numbers of cases with outcomes reported in each study and potential confounding factors adjusted in the multivariate analyses. The NewcastleOttawa Scale was used for study quality evaluation. This scale is rated from 1 to 9 stars and reflected the quality of the study by aspects of participants selection, comparability between groups, and outcome validation.

Dementia And Hearing Loss

Hearing Loss and Dementia â Lanarkshire Hearing Centre

Many people with dementia will also be living with hearing loss. It is common for people to develop gradual hearing loss as they age. People with hearing loss are also more likely to develop dementia, although at present we dont know why this is. Living with both conditions can present challenges, but there are many things which can help people to live well with both hearing loss and dementia.

Someone may have acquired hearing loss which has developed during the persons lifetime . Other people may have been born deaf or became deaf at a young age and are considered to have profound deafness. They may consider themselves as Deaf , use British Sign Language as their first language and identify with the Deaf community.

In this section we look at acquired hearing loss the problems with telling the difference between signs of dementia and acquired hearing loss, and how to help someone who has both.

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Important Information On Hearing Loss

Hearing loss doesnt happen suddenlyyour hearing will gradually get worse over time. If youre not sure if you need a hearing test, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you always turn up the volume on the TV or on your music player?
  • Do you have difficulty understanding others because they mumble?
  • Can you hear someone clearly if theyre standing behind you?
  • Do you have to ask others to repeat what they say?
  • Do you avoid restaurants because you find it more difficult to hear in them?

There are also several risk factors for developing a hearing loss. These include:

  • Being exposed to loud noise for extended periods of time
  • Chronic ear infections
  • Tinnitus
  • Menieres Disease

Dr Clare Walton Research Manager At Alzheimers Society Says:

‘This study adds to a growing body of research suggesting that hearing loss is a risk factor for dementia.

‘By following people over 65 with and without hearing problems for up to 25 years, researchers found that those with hearing problems were more likely to develop dementia.

‘Although this type of study cannot tell us whether using hearing aids would help to bring the risk of dementia back down, it does hint that this might be the case a finding that should be followed up with high priority.

‘With the numbers of people developing dementia set to reach 1 million by 2021, its vital to explore all the links between dementia and other health conditions so we can look for new ways to delay or even prevent the condition. If you are worried about dementia, get in touch with one of our Helpline advisers or make an appointment with your GP.’


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