September is World Alzheimer’s Month, so it’s a great time to consider how Alzheimer’s disease affects people, families, and communities. Alzheimer’s is the most common dementia, a broad term for many cognitive problems.
Here, we’ll look at the link between hearing loss and Alzheimer’s disease, and dementia.
Understanding Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s is often talked about in terms of how it affects people’s memories. Alzheimer’s makes it hard for people to remember new things and to make new memories.
However, as the disease gets worse, there are many other effects. One of the first signs of Alzheimer’s is general disorientation. This means that people suddenly get lost in familiar and strange places, forget where they just came from, or lose things they just held. Another sign of Alzheimer’s is getting confused when doing things they’ve done before, like handling money or driving their car.
Other signs of Alzheimer’s can be tough on friends and family. As Alzheimer’s worsens, people with it can have sudden mood swings and personality changes. They can act like they don’t care about people they used to care about or become suspicious of their loved ones and believe that people are out to hurt them. People with advanced Alzheimer’s can act in disturbing ways, like taking off their clothes in public or making inappropriate comments or moves. In other cases, people may get lost at night and leave the house.
A link to hearing loss
Alzheimer’s is a progressive, degenerative disease, which means there is no cure or way to fix the way the brain works. Researchers have been looking for ways to stop the disease from getting worse, and treating hearing loss has been a bright spot in the larger goal of helping people with Alzheimer’s.
The Lancet International Commission on Dementia Prevention, Intervention, and Care found that lifestyle factors, like hearing loss, could prevent more than a third of dementia cases worldwide. Hearing loss usually occurs when a person is in middle age, after being exposed to loud and constant noises for half a lifetime. Alzheimer’s usually affects older people, but there are a lot of people under 65 who have early-onset Alzheimer’s. This means they are at an age where hearing loss and cognitive decline can be a factor. Any age is a good time to start working on the risks of hearing loss, but middle-aged people with a family history of dementia or other cognitive problems might benefit the most.
Hearing loss treatment
Treating hearing loss is not a cure for Alzheimer’s and is not a “sure bet” in preventing Alzheimer’s. Still, improving your hearing can be an essential step toward living a longer, healthier life. Here are some steps that every plan for hearing health must include:
The first step in figuring out and caring for your hearing health needs is to see your trusted audiologist. Talk to someone who is trained in hearing health. Once you’ve had a safe, non-invasive hearing test, your hearing health professional will be better able to talk to you about the extent of any hearing damage and encourage you as you take the following steps toward better hearing health.
Find the right tools to help you hear. There are hearing aids out there that will work for you. Modern technology has made it possible to make high-tech, high-quality hearing aids that are affordable and will meet all of your needs. Hearing aids are essential because they help you hear sounds you may have missed. They also relieve your brain of the need to use resources from other senses to compensate for the hearing loss.
We hear loud noises daily in our homes, at work, and outside the world. Every day, do things that are good for your hearing. Simple things you can do daily to protect your hearing and prevent further loss include putting your fingers in your ears when loud sounds come on suddenly, like sirens, and keeping earplugs on hand for noisy places, like concerts.
Call us immediately if you’re worried about how well you can hear. Our team does thorough hearing tests and hearing aid fittings.