Did you know that wearing hearing aids can help slow the development of Alzheimer’s disease? Alzheimer’s, a common form of dementia, is closely linked to hearing loss. In fact people with hearing loss are estimated to be 1.4 times more likely to develop dementia than people with healthy hearing. When you consider then that the average American citizen has a 20% chance of getting Alzheimer’s anyway, that’s a big risk increase.
The link between hearing and Alzheimer’s
When you get your head around the physical logistics of hearing the link becomes clear. It’s all to do with how hearing stimulates your brain. Hearing loss can occur at any age and for a number of reasons. However, it’s generally accepted that as we age our hearing will fail to some degree.
With healthy hearing, sounds enter your ear and are converted to vibrations. Your inner ear converts these vibrations into nerve signals which get sent to the area of your brain that processes sound. Form there you use this information to create memories, to feel emotions and enjoy life.
So why is it that people with hearing loss are more at risk of Alzheimer’s?
When you have age-related hearing loss, sound vibrations still enter your ear, but the inner ear fails to convert some or all of the vibrations into nerve signals. This means less stimulation of your brain. Subsequently the part of your brain that would normally be constantly flooded with sound information, creating memories and feelings, instead becomes redundant and starts to weaken over time. Along with this, often people will become socially isolated, not wanting to join in with usual activities. Together this is a recipe for brain degeneration, and once it starts, it is usually a downward spiral leading to dementia or Alzheimer’s. The worse your hearing loss, the more likely it is you’ll develop dementia.
The importance of spotting hearing issues and dealing with them quickly
Anyone who has cared for, or is caring for someone with Alzheimer’s knows what a difficult disease it is to handle. Often it comes along with a number of life-changing problems. People suffering from more advanced Alzheimer’s often lose the ability to do things like care for themselves, go out alone, and communicate with people. Many in the end won’t recognise their own family and friends. As a carer you’ll probably need to decide whether or not to move your loved one to a nursing home, or bring them into your own home.
How to delay Alzheimer’s with hearing aids
Alzheimer’s is incurable. However, treating hearing loss early can delay the onset of Alzheimer’s. It can also slow the progression of the disease if someone is already suffering with Alzheimer’s.
Hearing loss should not be dismissed. Leaving hearing loss untreated can lead to rapid cognitive decline. People over the age of 55 should attend regular hearing checks to make sure they’re not suffering from untreated hearing loss. If you’re caring for someone with Alzheimer’s, or someone who is having difficulties with their hearing, get in touch with our team at Celestial Hearing for advice on how we can help you improve their quality of life with hearing aids.
Paula C. Rogers, BC-HIS is a Board Certified Hearing Instrument Specialist and has been helping people to restore and care for their hearing health for over 30 years. You’ll experience the warmth and loving care of Paula and her team who will become your hearing care partners for life at their Las Cruces Hearing Center.