Senior Smarts
April, 2014 - Issue #114
Hearing Loss
Linked to Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia

by Nola Aronson, MA
Alzheimer's disease and dementia are tragic illnesses that afflict seniors around the world, rendering them unable to function socially and incapable of taking care of themselves.

While scientists and medical professionals continue to research causes and solutions for both diseases, studies are indicating many connections between these diseases and hearing loss.

A 1986 study showed that about 83 percent of the patients diagnosed with senile dementia were also suffering from substantial hearing loss. Of the patients diagnosed with both diseases, one out of three were reassessed and diagnosed with a milder version of dementia after the hearing loss was treated.

Similar studies support the direct correlation between reduced cognitive ability and increasingly severe hearing loss.

Other studies suggest that hearing loss can contribute to or possibly worsen the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. Hearing loss has been clinically linked to depression, anxiety and social isolation in older adults. In turn, depression has been connected to Alzheimer's as both a cause and symptom.

A 486-person case study, performed over six years, concluded that people with a history of depression were 250 percent more likely to suffer from Alzheimer's disease. Further supporting these connections, studies have shown that patients with both hearing loss and dementia show improvements in communication and memory after the hearing loss has been treated with amplification devices.

What does all of this mean for the average person? In my professional opinion, it means that people should be more aware of monitoring and, if needed, addressing their hearing health, starting at middle age.

While research continues in discovering an effective cure or treatment for Alzheimer's, breakthrough hearing loss solutions have been available for some time. In fact, hearing devices that treat hearing loss are improving by leaps and bounds each year, due to new technology.

Nola Aronson's Advanced Audiology's mission is to help people lead better social lives by restoring their communication through better hearing. Call 877-4555 to determine if your hearing is causing any of the above problems.

Courtesy of Shutterstock
Courtesy of Shutterstock
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