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Alzheimers and Hearing Loss: An Undeniable Link

Hearing Loss Should Be Addressed in People with Alzheimer's, BHI Highlights during National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month

Washington, DC: The Better Hearing Institute (BHI) is urging caregivers to address hearing loss in people with Alzheimer's disease during National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month in November. Unaddressed hearing loss can present an added, unnecessary strain on individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and also on caregivers who suffer from hearing loss themselves.

As a “Champion” member of the Alzheimer’s Association Early Detection Alliance (AEDA), BHI also is educating the hearing health community and the people it serves on the importance of early diagnosis of Alzheimer's and coexisting hearing loss. Early detection, diagnosis, and intervention are critical because they provide the best opportunities for treatment, support, and planning for the future.

“When hearing loss is left unaddressed, it can significantly compound the challenges that people with Alzheimer's and their caregivers already face," says Sergei Kochkin, BHI's Executive Director. “But in many cases, the appropriate use of hearing aids can benefit people with Alzheimer’s.”
There is strong evidence that hearing impairment contributes to the progression of cognitive dysfunction in older adults. Unmanaged hearing loss can interrupt the cognitive processing of spoken language and sound, regardless of other coexisting conditions. But when an individual has both Alzheimer's and hearing loss, many of the symptoms of hearing loss can interact with those common to Alzheimer's, making the disease more difficult than it might be if the hearing loss had been addressed.

Numerous studies have linked untreated hearing loss to a wide range of physical and emotional conditions, including impaired memory and ability to learn new tasks, reduced alertness, increased risk to personal safety, irritability, negativism, anger, fatigue, tension, stress, depression, and diminished psychological and overall health.

Studies also have shown that although a significantly higher percentage of people with Alzheimer's disease may have hearing loss than their normally aging peers, they are much less likely to receive attention for their hearing needs.

Research has shown that the use of hearing aids, especially in combination with appropriate aural rehabilitation in a multidisciplinary setting, has helped to reduce symptoms of depression, passivity, negativism, disorientation, anxiety, social isolation, feelings of helplessness, loss of independence and general cognitive decline in people with Alzheimer’s.

BHI is urging caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s to also address their own hearing health—recognizing the negative impact that untreated hearing loss can have on their own quality of life and emotional well-being. Caregivers can determine if they need a comprehensive hearing check by a hearing professional by taking a free, quick, and confidential online hearing test at www.hearingcheck.org.

"A comprehensive hearing assessment should be part of any Alzheimer's diagnosis and any hearing loss should be addressed," says Kochkin. "By addressing hearing loss, we can help improve quality-of-life for people with Alzheimer's so they can live as fully as possible."

Read more on this topic: Dementia and Alzheimer's: Improvement Seen With Hearing Loss Treatment

Source: Better Hearing Institute

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