Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Hearing Loss and Dementia: Understanding the Connection

Dementia, which includes Alzheimer's disease, is a major concern for many families, as it can prove difficult for seniors and their loved ones to cope with this condition. As such, eldercare and dementia care professionals encourage families to plan for such a disease by understanding the risk factors that may lead to it. One such risk factor, according to a 2011 study performed at the John Hopkins School of Medicine, is hearing loss.

According to an article published by The Huffington Post, researchers involved in the study looked at 639 adults who were aged 36 to 90.1 Over the course of four years, these participants were tested for their cognitive and aural health. For the next 14 years, until May of 2008, researchers kept tabs on which participants developed Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia.

When the study began, none of the participants suffered from dementia; however, 125 of them had mild hearing loss, 53 had moderate hearing loss, and six had severe hearing loss. The results, at the end of the study, revealed that individuals who had hearing loss at the onset of the initiative were more likely to develop dementia. The article explains: "[...] the greater the hearing loss, the more chance there was. This was a noticeable trend for the Alzheimer's too: Baltimore's Dr. Frank Lin reported that for every 10 decibels of hearing lost, the extra likelihood of development jumped up by 20 percent."

Other studies have corroborated the evidence found in this one, including one conducted in 2013 by researchers at the Health ABC Study Group. But this does not mean that hearing loss necessitates dementia; the development of hearing loss does not automatically lead to the development of Alzheimer's disease or any other form of cognitive difficulty. Ultimately, the information gathered during these studies should serve to help seniors and their families to stay aware of the risks that they face and to ensure that the proper precautions, treatment methods, and other activities are put into place to detect and address the issue should it arise. Dementia care providers at Always Best Care of Burlington-Greensboro encourage you to reach out to your loved one's doctor if you have any concerns about their health.

1 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tom-rokins/dementia-research_b_3069308.html

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