In order to prevent dementia from developing later in life, many experts feel that individuals should be aware of changes in their hearing.
In the course of aging, certain brain cells are destroyed or the connections between them are harmed. This terrifying process is referred to as “brain atrophy” or “cognitive decline.”
Table of Contents
- Hearing and Dementia: What is Dementia??
- Hearing and Dementia: What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
- Hearing and Dementia: Treating Dementia?
Hearing and Dementia: What is Dementia?
According to the traditional definition, dementia is an advanced deterioration of intellectual functions that family medicine doctors, neurologists, psychiatrists, neuropsychologists, but also unhealthy professions such as social workers encounter in their daily practice. It most often appears after the age of 65, but it can appear earlier.
Dementia is a syndrome (a group of symptoms that appear together) in which memory, thinking, behavior and the ability to perform daily activities deteriorate. It is one of the main causes of disability and dependency on other people’s help among the elderly in the world.
What Are the Main Types of Dementia?
There are several types of dementia:
- according to the cause (degenerative, vascular, infectious, metabolic, endocrine, caused by tumors, etc.),
- according to the localization of changes in the brain (cortical, subcortical, cortico-subcortical),
- according to the possibility of treatment (curable and incurable).
How is Hearing Loss Connected to Dementia?
According to research, those with hearing loss experience brain atrophy or shrinkage more quickly than people whose hearing is normal.
Another connection between dementia and hearing loss is caused by a “overloaded” brain. The brain has to work extra hard to understand what people are saying when it is difficult to hear them.
Hearing fatigue saps a person’s mental strength and saps the brain’s ability to do other crucial tasks including memory, thinking, and action. This may facilitate the development of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and other cognitive impairments.
Hearing and Dementia: What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia (60–80% of all dementias), it is incurable, and in the last stages leads to complete dependence on others.. This disease is a slowly progressive dementia, with memory impairment occurring early in the clinical course. The duration of the disease varies from two to 20 years with a median survival of about six to eight years from diagnosis.
Due to the deterioration of brain cells, patients lose their cognitive abilities, such as:
- Loss of memory,
- Loss of orientation in time and space,
- Inability to perform everyday activities and actions.
These patients have a pronounced feeling of helplessness and loss. Caring for an Alzheimer’s patient completely changes the life of the entire family, caregivers and community and puts them in a very difficult position.
Experts have singled out five signs that may indicate the development of Alzheimer’s disease:
- Memory problems
- Personality changes
- Paranoia and hallucinations
- Financial problems
- Hearing loss
Symptoms that point to the disease are memory loss, especially for recent events, neglected appearance, difficulties in learning and retaining new information, difficulties in temporal and spatial orientation, in performing more complex tasks, speech and behavioral disorders (depression, sudden onset anger, aggression, aimless wandering…).
However, mistakes are possible when we identify the first symptoms and signs with old age, which results in untimely recognition of the disease, thus we lose the opportunity for timely application of therapy that is most effective in the early stages of the disease.
What is the Main Cause of Alzheimer’s?
The cause of Alzheimer’s dementia is not known. Most often, it appears individually, but in 5% of cases it is passed down through the family, and so far, three genes responsible for the hereditary form of the disease have been identified.
Down syndrome has been found to cause the early development of Alzheimer’s disease, usually after the age of 40.
Possible risk factors for Alzheimer’s dementia are:
- arterial hypertension
- elevated blood fats
- blood vessel disease
- excessive intake of saturated fat and calories
- low level of vitamin B12
- head trauma
Hearing Loss and Memory Loss: Findings
Researchers have discovered a connection between memory decline and hearing loss. By 2050, this discovery may have a 10% impact on the amount of people with dementia or memory loss.
The research was conducted by Dr. Frank Lin from the Johns Hopkins Medical Institute in Baltimore. He and his colleagues studied 639 people aged 36 to 90 who did not suffer from memory loss. Participants underwent cognitive and auditory testing between 1990 and 1994.
Until May 2008, the same participants were monitored for the possible development of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. 125 participants had mild hearing problems, 53 moderate, and six of them had severe hearing impairment. The risk of dementia was increased in those who had moderate or severe hearing loss.
Among people over 60 years old, as many as a third of dementia sufferers also had hearing problems. Those who had impaired hearing also had an increased chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease by 20 percent compared to those with normal hearing.
Hearing and Dementia: Treating Dementia
Hearing loss is undoubtedly linked to a higher chance of acquiring several dementias, including Alzheimer’s disease, as the brain no longer receives the correct auditory input, which results in gradually weakened cognitive performance. The good news is that if people are assisted with hearing aids and specialized exercises, the harm that results from sound stimulation can be lessened or entirely reversed.
Given that there is no possibility of cure, what can certainly be done is early recognition of the disease, postponement of the advanced stages of the disease, and adaptation of everyday life. In order to achieve this, it is necessary to be well informed about the initial symptoms, the course of the disease, as well as the existing possibilities of care, care and slowing down the course of the disease.
First of all, every elderly person must be educated about this problem. Likewise, people of younger age groups who live with, care for, or in any way take care of their older family members should have knowledge about this disease, both for their family members and for themselves. Good education is the beginning and basis of solving any problem.
In every patient suspected of having dementia, a computerized tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain should be performed in addition to a well-taken medical history in order to rule out possible structural damage to the brain that can cause dementia.
Prevention primarily includes general measures aimed at proper and regular nutrition with a protective effect on brain function, adoption of healthy lifestyles (life without tobacco smoke and alcohol consumption) and regular physical activity.
In addition to the above, it is crucial to maintain the brain’s mental activity daily through social inclusion through daily conversation, solving enigmatic tasks, playing board games, reading, listening to the radio and watching television shows, and talking about what we have heard, exchanging opinions. All this represents the best mental gymnastics.
If you, or anyone you know, worked in noise and suffers from hearing loss, please do not hesitate to contact us.Contact Us