As we grow older, managing our health seems to become a more challenging task, and when we surpass the age of 65, our chances of being diagnosed with health issues, like Alzheimer’s, greatly increase. But what if we could be proactive and do more to prevent the onset of such illnesses?
Research suggests that there may be a connection between hearing loss and Alzheimer’s. Understanding what Alzheimer’s is, and how it’s connected to hearing loss, can be beneficial for identifying your next best steps to preventing, if not delaying, this memory-related disease.
What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common form of dementia, affecting between 60 and 80% of those diagnosed. According to the Alzheimer's Association, dementia can be defined as “a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life.” Some symptoms of dementia include memory loss, difficulty communicating, and the inability to reason well.
As a progressive, neurodegenerative disease, an individual with Alzheimer’s will experience the death of brain cells over time. With fewer nerve cells and connections, the ability for the brain to function properly will continue to decrease, and as a result, the diagnosed individual will experience a decline in his or her cognitive abilities.
While Alzheimer’s is often associated with aging, age is merely a risk factor of the disease. Of the 5 million+ people in the U.S. diagnosed, a majority are over the age of 65, but roughly 200,000 are under the age of 65.
As of today, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, although some treatments exist for slowing down certain symptoms and improving the quality of life for those diagnosed. Researchers are actively trying to understand what causes Alzheimer’s, in hopes that new treatments for slowing down the progression of the disease, if not stopping it altogether, can be found.
What is the Link Between Alzheimer’s and Hearing Loss?
In 2011, Dr. Frank Lin, an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, published a study in the Archives of Neurology. This study was conducted on 639 participants, between 36 and 90 years old, and explored if hearing loss is truly a risk factor for dementia.
None of the participants were diagnosed with dementia at the onset of the study. However, by the end of the study, 58 of the participants were diagnosed. Findings revealed that, of these participants, those who had hearing loss at the onset of the study were significantly more likely to develop dementia by the end of the study.
Dr. Lin’s study supports that hearing loss may cause dementia. He notes that this may be due to the cognitive overload or social isolation that can result from hearing loss. He also explains that social isolation itself been linked to dementia. Such findings imply that interventions, like hearing aids, may aid in delaying or preventing forms of dementia, like Alzheimer’s.
What Can I Do if I Have Hearing Loss?
If you suspect that you may be experiencing hearing loss, Advanced Affordable Hearing is here to help. Our mission is to offer you hearing aids that will improve your hearing, without breaking the bank.