Hearing loss and dementia …how are they linked

October 26, 2017 by Raji Parangad

Common symptoms of dementia:

  • Memory loss
  • Confusion (not remembering what they were saying)
  • Difficulty with thinking and decision making (should they answer the door?)
  • Decline in skills needed for everyday living (not remembering how to cook)
  • Changes in ways of communicating (not being able to find the correct word, mixing up words, or repeating what’s been said)

Common symptoms of hearing loss:

  • Difficulty hearing other people clearly and misunderstanding what they say, especially in group situations
  • Asking people to repeat themselves and/or speak more slowly
  • Having the volume for music/TV higher than other people need
  • Difficulty hearing the phone/doorbell
  • Finding it difficult to tell which direction noise is coming from
  • Often feeling tired or stressed, from having to concentrate while listening.

    People with dementia can have difficulty communicating with others, including finding the right words, or signs, for what they want to say. They will have difficulty processing what they’ve heard, particularly if there are distractions. According to some researchers, this difficulty in processing information (when there is competing information, auditory or otherwise) can be one of the first signs of some form of cognitive impairment.

    Further evidence suggests that proper diagnosis and management of hearing loss, including provision of hearing aids, reduce the risk and impact of dementia and some of the other associated co-morbidities, such as falls and depression.

    It is worth noting that although dementia is diagnosed in later life, changes in the brain usually start developing many years before. Latest  studis looked at the benefits of building a “cognitive reserve”, meaning that if the brain’s networks were strengthened, it could continue to function in later life regardless of the damage. As discussed, lifestyle factors can play a vital role in increasing or reducing an individual’s dementia risk. It is suggested that not smoking, keeping healthy, doing exercise and treating high blood pressure and diabetes can all help reduce the risk of dementia for some, as well as cardiovascular disease.
    If you are worried about hearing loss or dementia, it is best to speak to your GP who will then refer you to an Audiology clinic  for further investigation. Call My Audiologist on 07 34465845 today to make an appointment to get your hearing checked.


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