Did you know that age related hearing loss is the number one cause of hearing impairment? In fact,nearly 70% of seniors over age 70 are thought to have some degree of hearing loss. As many as thirty five million Americans are thought to have impaired hearing today, and that number is projected to grow to forty million by the year 2025. With these statistics, it makes sense that many seniors with dementia may be experiencing undiagnosed hearing impairment.
When cognitive impairment is coupled with hearing loss, there can be a pretty dramatic shut down in communication. Studies indicated that there is a link between hearing loss that is not treated and cognitive decline. Age related hearing loss, also called “prebyacusis” if left untreated may not necessarily lead to deafness, but it may certainly result in a great deal of frustration, particularly in those with AD dementia.
Your loved one may shut down when it comes to communicating with others, instead of facing the difficulty of asking others to rephrase or speak more slowly to improve comprehension. It may be easier for those with dementia to simply refrain from conversation all together in order to avoid the embarrassment of being unable to properly hear and follow the conversation.
Although there is no known method of reversing age related hearing loss, it’s imperative that hearing loss is properly medically managed, by interventions such as hearing aids, in order to help facilitate good communication for as long as possible for individuals with AD.
Managing Hearing Loss in those with Dementia
It’s very important for those with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease to receive regular hearing screens, particularly if a sudden deficit in communication is noted-or any time hearing loss is suspected by caregivers or family members. Undiagnosed hearing loss can definitely impact your loved one’s quality of life while at the same time making it difficult to assess the level of cognitive decline he/she may be experiencing.
All seniors and particularly those with dementia should have regular hearing screens and appropriate intervention when hearing loss is diagnosed. Be sure to talk to your attending physician about how often he/she recommends a hearing screening for your loved one.
To learn more about Alzheimer’s prevention and treatment, be sure to sign up for our FREE 25 lessons for caregiver’s course at AlzU.org today by CLICKING HERE.