As research on dementia and Alzheimer’s disease has advanced, we have discovered several risk factors that we know can increase a person’s chances of dementia. These include genetics, age, brain injuries and diminish cognitive stimulation, just to name a few. Now, scientists believe there is another risk factor to consider. According to recent studies, loss of hearing may be linked to dementia and indicate a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Rob Low, Community Relations Director at Clarity Pointe™ Pensacola, a memory care assisted living community in Pensacola, Florida, says, “Although conclusive evidence has yet to fully explain the link between hearing loss and dementia, the insight these studies have brought to the table reveal interesting warning signs for those with poor hearing. If further studies prove a direct relationship between a loss of hearing and Alzheimer’s, we could be on the path toward greater preventative efforts for memory loss.”
Correlation or Causation?
According to the latest research we have on the topic, the link between hearing loss and Alzheimer’s disease exists with several unknowns. A study from 2011 showed that patients with hearing loss were more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than those without hearing impairments. In fact, those with mild hearing loss of approximately 25 decibels were twice as likely to develop dementia than those with normal hearing. As hearing loss intensified, so did the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
So, is it right to say that hearing loss causes Alzheimer’s disease? Maybe. Or maybe not. Researchers have a few theories that might explain the relationship between these two conditions:
A Similar Cause – It could be that the same changes in the brain that cause Alzheimer’s disease also cause worsened hearing. However, since the exact cause of dementia is still unknown, this possibility has yet to be proven.
Strain on the Brain – Another theory suggests that the strain of hearing loss causes cognitive exhaustion for those who experience it. This exhaustion could lead to the type of cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
Social Isolation – Hearing loss in older adults can often cause them to isolate themselves from others or stop participating in mentally stimulating activities. Combined, this lack of cognitive activity creates a mental environment ripe for the development of memory loss.
What Can Seniors Do About It?
As with many theories surrounding dementia and memory loss, much more research is required before we can make certain conclusions. That doesn’t mean we can’t act on the information we have, though. Until we know more about the association between hearing loss and Alzheimer’s disease, there are plenty of ways seniors can advocate for better health and wellness as they age, and ultimately try to decrease their risk of memory loss. Such actions include:
Have Regular Screenings – Hearing loss related to age typically develops gradually, so it can be hard to recognize as your brain slowly compensates for this condition in everyday life. Experts suggest that adults as young as 45 should undergo regular hearing screenings to detect any changes in their ear and hearing health.
Take Action Early – If hearing loss does occur, seniors should do what they can to remedy their lack of hearing. Whether this involves hearing aids or cochlear implants, talk to your doctor about the best approach to improve your hearing. If the cognitive strain from hearing loss does cause dementia, alleviating that strain as soon as possible can help lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Know the Warning Signs – If you do experience some degree of hearing loss, educate yourself on the early warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease. Understand the cognitive changes that occur with normal aging and those that indicate something more. Be on the lookout for these signs, since studies show your risk for dementia may be greater.
Keep Your Health Your Greatest Priority
“Whether you are the caregiver of an older loved one or going through your own aging journey, those of us at Clarity Pointe believe that your health should be at the forefront of your intentions,” shares Low. “As a caregiver, maintaining good health is pertinent to one’s ability to provide proper care of another. Be aware of the early signs of hearing loss or memory loss in yourself and your older loved ones and intervene as soon as possible.”
If you would like to learn more about living with hearing loss, Alzheimer’s disease or the services we provide at Clarity Pointe Pensacola, reach out to our professional team today.
Clarity Pointe … Our Difference is Clear
Clarity Pointe’s Specialized Memory Care “Living” Neighborhoods are truly changing lives for those with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias – and for those who love them. At Clarity Pointe, our mission is to ensure our residents lead connected and rewarding lives.
Unlike other providers that offer a secure memory care wing in a skilled nursing or assisted living center, Clarity Pointe Pensacola offers three freestanding, purpose-built Memory Care communities that are solely and entirely dedicated to Memory Care Assisted Living. Our communities blend luxurious surroundings with specialized care that is individualized to each resident and delivered by a compassionate, expert team of professionals.
We stay current on the latest trends and advancements in Alzheimer’s care and implement them into our residents’ care plans. Always moving forward, we combine the latest in evidence-based programming with luxurious, residential living and compassionate respectful care.
For each of our residents, we offer a life that is engaging, fulfilling, inspiring and meaningful.