Hearing Loss and Dementia – Lanarkshire Hearing Centre
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Hearing Loss and Dementia

Hearing Loss and Dementia

I wanted to write this blog after a recent visit I had to a sheltered housing complex. I was contacted by a patient’s daughter who was desperate for her father. Her father had Parkinson’s disease but there seemed to be rapid decline in dad’s cognitive capacities. The lady in question had been informed that it’s the Parkinson’s.

Anyway along I went at the request of the patients daughter. She had looked at research into ears, communication and dis orders of the brain. Of course I had to explain that I was not medically trained on these matters and the patient should always consult their GP or specialist care provider.

On inspection of the patients ears we found that both ears had major impacted ear wax present. 90 mins later!!!! I had removed the wax and the difference was startling. The patients was instantly communicating and responding to questions. This was not the case when we came in.

This led me to write this blog about the links of hearing loss & dementia. Even simple untreated hearing loss from impacted ear wax is at risk of being misunderstood as perhaps the worsening of a current condition or even comments such as ‘Its part of ageing’. Now maybe it is but this also proves any cognitive condition should be checked for accompanying hearing loss. 

A recent major study was carried out by the Lancet institute. It estimates that between 46 – 48 million people globally are living with dementia. This is likely to increase to 131 million by 2050.

Hearing Loss and Dementia

The study suggests that 1 in 3 dementia cases could be prevented if more people looked after their brain health throughout life. There were 9 key risk factors identified to contribute to dementia. When you think about it some of them would seem obvious and some of them, we’re all probably going to go through at some point in life

  1. Education reduction after 11 -12 years
  2. Midlife Hypertension
  3. Midlife obesity
  4. Hearing loss
  5. Smoking
  6. Not keeping active and fit
  7. Diabetes 
  8. Depression 
  9. Social isolation

These risk factors are described as possibly modifiable. There is potential we can do something about them with positive change. Also if you think about it even if you’re not from a medical background these make sense. All the above will interrupt our cognitive ability over time. They will put stress on our bodies which our bodies will struggle to cope with over time. This modifiable dementia possibly accounts for 35% of dementia while 65% is classed as non-modifiable.

Hearing Loss and Dementia


What is the link between hearing loss and dementia?

By far the majority of dementia sufferers are over 70 and nearly ¾ or over 70 year olds have hearing loss of some manner or other. There is very strong evidence to suggest that even mild untreated hearing loss doubles the risk of developing dementia and the risks go up the severer the hearing loss with a moderate hearing loss 3x the risk and severe untreated hearing loss 5 x the risk.

Hearing loss can be misdiagnosed as dementia and the symptoms of dementia can appear worse due to hearing loss this is similar to the patient I discussed at the beginning.


Common symptoms of dementia:

  • Loss of memory 
  • 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.
Hearing Loss and Dementia

Dementia creates a real problem for those that have it. It restricts their communication and it also distracts them from hearing correctly. If you have untreated hearing loss and no 

There is strong evidence to support that proper diagnosis along with a full hearing test and the provision of hearing aids where needed reduce the impact of dementia along with helping with isolation, depression and even falls. 

Although Dementia tends to be diagnosed when someone is in their later years the changes in the brain associated with dementia can occur many years before. This study looked as building tactics and networks to help strengthen the brains cognitive function years before diagnosis. Early intervention may not stop dementia but it will strengthen the reserves that feed into the same area. 

Hearing aids and adoption of hearing aids as soon as hearing loss is identified is crucial to the brains cognitive function. Early adoption of hearing aids will be so much better for the person who suffers from hearing loss. Also its easier for someone with hearing loss to adapt to a life with hearing instruments the sooner they do something about it.

If you’re worried about dementia your first point of call is always your GP. 

Hearing Loss and Dementia

At Lanarkshire Hearing Centre we recommend that people get their hearing tested especially when you are over 55. If hearing loss is found deal with the problem immediately. Hearing aids are so small and sleek now there is no reason to put it off especially as the evidence points to reduced risk of dementia or certainly reducing the impact of dementia.

For further links read more @

Action Hearing Loss

Hear It

Alzheimers

Steven Ross (MSHAA, RHAD) 
Director

58 Cadzow Street,
Hamilton,
ML3 6DS

t:   01698 283549
m: 07340 746950

e: info@lanarkshirehearingcentre.co.uk

www.lanarkshirehearingcentre.co.uk