Link Between Hearing Aids and Dementia: a Potential Solution

The human brain is a wonderous thing- something we haven’t properly understood yet. There is something new to discover every day. New research has found connections between hearing loss,hearing aids and dementia .  

Hearing aids can help stimulate the auditory neurons for those suffering from hearing loss. The simulations keep the brain more active than those who suffer from hearing loss but do not use hearing aids. Using hearing aids can significantly slow down the risk of cognitive decline or impairment, such as dementia.

Hearing Aids and Dementia

Interested to know more? Read along!

Dementia

Many people think that dementia is a disease. But in reality, it is not. It is the general term for the loss of cognitive functions - such as remembering, thinking, reasoning, and making decisions. Dementia is usually caused by damage to the brain cells or neurons. It's much more common in older adults. Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for people with dementia.

Also Read: Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease are both neurological disorders. The symptoms appear to be almost the same; read on to know is it possible to have both at the same time?

Hearing Loss and Hearing Aids

If a person is not able to hear as well as normal human beings, they have hearing loss. Aging is one of the main reasons for hearing loss. A hearing aid is a small device that helps with hearing loss by making the sound more audible. They cannot cure hearing loss, but they can improve your hearing.

Hearing Loss and Dementia

It might be hard to understand how hearing aids can relate to dementia. We already know that hearing aids are used to help improve hearing loss . Now, let’s first see how hearing loss and dementia are related.

As we grow older, the connection between our brain cells gets damaged and weakened. This process is called cognitive decline or brain atrophy. When you’re suffering from hearing loss, the part of your brain responsible for auditory response shrinks gradually. Research found that when people with hearing loss focus on complex sound/sentences, their neurons are less active. They also tend to have less gray matter in the auditory area part of their brain. 

People with hearing loss already have a weaker neural connection in some areas of their brain. So, they are more likely to develop cognitive problems than people without hearing loss problems. Moreover, those with hearing loss tend to lose their cognitive functions faster than those without. 

Make no mistake; there is no proof that hearing loss “causes” dementia. But, it sure has a connection and contributes to the problem. People with hearing loss have a high risk of developing dementia , even if they have mild hearing loss. Note that this field is still being immensely researched.

Dementia patients are typically fixated with money. Continue reading to discover the connection between dementia and an obsession with money.

Hearing Aids and Dementia

In research , no hard evidence found that hearing aids can reverse or prevent cognitive decline or dementia. But, it has been speculated that hearing aids can delay the onset of cognitive impairment.

Some independent studies have shown that, among people with hearing loss, those who wear hearing aids have a slower cognitive decline than those who do not. They tend to have a slower decline in loss of memory of words. Hearing aids keep your brain active, slowing down the rate of cognitive decline.

Symptoms of hearing loss and dementia are often mistaken interchangeably. Some such symptoms are trouble understanding speech, holding a conversation, etc. Having a hearing aid can help you differentiate between hearing loss and dementia. If a person shows these symptoms before using hearing aids and continues to show them after, you may want to consider taking them to the doctor. 

Hearing loss should never be ignored as it can worsen dementia symptoms and patients’ disorientation. Make sure the patient is wearing their hearing aid regularly. A patient with both dementia and hearing loss will have a hard time navigating through life. Getting hearing aids may help improve the quality of their lives. Regular use of hearing aids from the first hearing loss diagnosis can significantly reduce the chances of developing any severe cognitive impairment or dementia in the future. 

Also Read: Lip-smacking is the most common symptom of Lewy body dementia. Continue reading to learn how hearing aids can help relieve such symptoms if dementia develops as a result of hearing loss.

Tips for Patients suffering from Hearing loss

If you are suffering from hearing loss or even have symptoms of hearing loss, here are a few things you can follow-

  1. Get correctly diagnosed. A diagnosis will determine if you have hearing problems or not, and if you do, what stage it is (mild/moderate/severe/profound). 
  2. Determine what type of hearing aid you need. After you get diagnosed with hearing loss, consult with your doctor and determine what type of hearing aid best suits you. There are many types to choose from: BTE, ITE, CIC, and so forth.
  3. Invest in a quality hearing aid. Remember that not only can these hearing aids make your life easier, they can also reduce the risk of cognitive impairment. 
  4. Use your hearing aid regularly. We have already explained in the article how crucial using hearing aids regularly is to reduce risks of cognitive impairment. 
  5. Get your ear and hearing aid tested around every six months. Take hearing tests to determine the condition of your hearing abilities. 
  6. Practice healthy habits. A healthy lifestyle can help you navigate through life easier and better. 

Dementia and hearing loss are two closely related health problems that can be addressed with hearing aids. Discover most effective hearing aids for dementia patients.

Bottom Line

Life can be challenging for those who aren’t blessed with proper functions. Hearing loss can put you at high risk of dementia, making your life harder. But, it doesn’t have to be. Now that we know the connection between hearing aids and dementia, we can make better choices to help conduct our lives better.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: Does your hearing get worse if you don’t wear hearing aids?
Ans: Your hearing will not necessarily worsen if you don’t wear hearing aids. But, you will slowly start to lose the ability to discriminate speech. This is because your brain is not getting enough stimulation due to hearing loss. 

Q: How long does the brain take to adjust to hearing aids?
Ans: It takes about six weeks to six months for your brain to completely adjust to hearing aids. This is because your brain starts receiving auditory simulations it’s been missing and not used to. Practice wearing your hearing aid patiently for that time being. 

Q: How can an audiologist help a dementia patient?
Ans:An audiologist can help a dementia patient by arranging hearing tests. This will help determine the patient’s hearing loss problems and get a hearing aid. Regular hearing with the help of a hearing aid can help keep dementia patients’ brains stimulated, thus slowing down the rate of cognitive decline.

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