How Untreated Hearing Loss Can Lead to Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s disease has been linked to hearing loss. The reason is, we don’t really hear with our ears, but with our brains. If you have hearing loss, areas and connections in your brain that recognize sounds begin to reorganize themselves. Research says that when your hearing loss remains untreated, it can lead to memory difficulties and an overall deterioration of cognitive function.
A study was conducted where seniors were observed for several years. Those who developed Alzheimer’s were tracked, monitoring how fast the disease progressed. Individuals who had hearing loss were 24% more likely to develop Alzheimer’s, and the worse the hearing issues were, the more likely they would develop dementia.
There are several theories as to why this may happen. One theory states that as the part of your brain that handles hearing and auditory processing begins to work differently, it alters the way your brain is structured which then leads to Alzheimer’s. Another theory is that your brain must put in more energy to make sense of and hear what people are saying, leaving you with less mental energy to put toward other functions such as memory and cognition.
For individuals who have Alzheimer’s and also experience hearing loss, there may be a belief that hearing aids don’t help. This is incorrect. Auditory input stimulates our brain and helps it process and comprehend things around us in the world. For an individual with Alzheimer’s and hearing loss, a hearing aid can help them with their relationships, reduce the stress of communication, and stimulates the brain.
Addressing any hearing loss issues allow for the brain to consistently receive stimulus, and also helps the individual stay alert. As such, those with Alzheimer’s should be sure to have their hearing tested fairly early on in their diagnosis so the benefits a hearing aid provides can be utilized as quickly as possible.
If the person with Alzheimer’s completely rejects the idea of wearing hearing aids, there is not much that can be done. However, for those that are open to the idea, it is recommended to visit a hearing specialist and obtain hearing aids to help provide auditory stimulation and improve communication. Sometimes one device will be enough, but if there is hearing loss in both ears, two are preferred. The more automatic the functions of the aid are, such as for telephone calls, volume, and noise reduction, the more successful the experience will be.
The hearing professionals at Bravo Hearing Centre in Etobicoke understand that hearing is essential for your overall wellbeing. For this reason, we strive to provide the best advice and recommendations for each of our patients. Our team is committed to providing services and support based on the needs of each individual.