Do yourself and your brain a favor – get your hearing tested at the Hearing Group because untreated hearing loss can lead to the onset of dementia, the most common form of Alzheimer’s. Hearing tests are painless and putting them off, which seems to be an American trait, is a bad idea.
We bring this up now because September is World Alzheimer’s Month and more and more studies both here and in Europe, are finding a link between untreated hearing loss and dementia.
Hearing loss and dementia cross all ethnic boundaries.
Alzheimer’s in the world
Throughout the world, the ravages of Alzheimer’s rack up a more than $818 billion price tag. It encases individuals in a virtual plastic bubble and removes the ability to relate to time, place, individuals and the environment. It is a brain condition and studies have found not using parts of your brain associated with sound processing can lead to deterioration that hastens dementia.
There are 46 million people across the world dealing with dementia, the most common form of Alzheimer’s. There are several physical forms, but dementia which affects cognitive abilities is the most widespread. Studies in the United States as well as Europe and Asia have discovered a link between cognitive loss and untreated hearing loss. Delaying a hearing test does put you at risk for dementia.
What is dementia?
Dementia due to Alzheimer’s is a brain condition that affects the parts of the brain that controlling thought processing, memory and language. It’s like the brain connections start firing just a little off and then get more and more off track. It is not a normal part of aging like hearing loss. Nearly 2/3 of seniors over the age of 70 experience some sort of normal, treatable hearing loss.
Memory loss also comes with age, but memory exercise, writing things down, keeping a routine can fix most of those issues. The memory loss associated with dementia is more frightening. You are walking through the mall where you’ve walked hundreds of times before and you don’t remember any of the stores, or how to get to the parking lot or if you even drove your car.
Other dementia indicators include: forgetting common names of items, problems handling cash and paying bills, trouble with time, place and events, , repeating questions over and over during the same conversation without realizing that you are doing it, taking longer to complete mundane tasks, displaying poor judgement, losing and placing things in odd areas, mood and personality changes, believing family members and caregivers are “out to get you.”
Untreated hearing loss and dementia
Certain factors make you more likely to get dementia such as obesity, diabetes, lack of exercise, high blood pressure, smoking, depression and untreated hearing loss.
The brain does amazing things, but even it can become overburdened. Concentrating on trying to decipher sounds and conversations puts what scientists call a “cognitive load” on certain areas of the brain. Too much of a load for too long on some parts of the brain can cause other parts to shrink. Brain changes can help bring about dementia.
Depression often results from social isolation and those with hearing difficulties often isolate themselves from others. It is simply easier to stay home than try to decipher what a store clerk or a friend at a noisy party.
Studies show people wait between three and five years to get hearing loss treated once it is discovered. The longer you wait, the more likely your brain will start to forget how to interpret and process sound and the more likely you will have started to forego outside activities.
Hearing aids are great tools
Your eyesight starts to fail – you get glasses. Your hearing starts to cause you problems – get a test and get hearing aids. Call the Hearing Group and get started. They can help you with a hearing device model you can use and walk you through the technological advances. You can stream your phone calls, television shows, face-timing with the grandkids from your iPad all through your hearing aids! They will enhance the way you listen to music and there are numerous models that sit inside the ear and are very discreet. There is no good reason to delay getting your hearing evaluated and treated. Don’t make yourself a candidate for dementia by not having your hearing checked and treated.