This new year, make it a goal to help a parent or grandparent prevent any of the causes of Alzheimer’s or dementia. One of these causes, unbeknownst to many, may commonly be hearing loss. Recent studies conducted at the University of Washington’s Department of Medicine found that out of 100 patients with Alzheimer’s, 83 patients had a hearing loss. Once fit with hearing aids, a third of those patients were classified with a less severe case of dementia.
So how is hearing loss related to Alzheimer’s? Well, hearing loss actually plays a large role in brain function and stimulating brain activity in processing sounds. The term ‘auditory deprivation’ refers to depriving the brain of stimulation from sounds. For those with untreated hearing losses, the reduced ability to hear every day sounds may lead to reduced sound processing activity by the brain. As the brain receives fewer sounds, it becomes less active in processing a person’s surroundings and recognizing speech.
What can be done? The first step towards prevention is an easy one, have a hearing test to identify hearing loss. In fact, the Michigan chapter of Self-Help for Hard of Hearing advocates for a hearing evaluation required prior to any Alzheimer’s diagnosis to determine impact and overlap with results of hearing loss. To schedule your free hearing appointment, simply call Hearing by Design or submit your information on our Contact Us page.