An underlying fear of Alzheimer’s disease runs rampant among seniors who struggle with the symptoms of memory loss and impaired cognitive function. But the latest research suggests at least some of that worry might be baseless and that these problems may be the outcome of a far more treatable condition.
According to a study published in a Canadian medical journal, the symptoms some think might be a product of Alzheimer’s could actually be a consequence of neglected hearing loss.
For the Canadian study, researchers closely assessed participant’s functional capabilities pertaining to thought and memory and searched for any links to possible brain disorders. 56 percent of individuals assessed for cognitive impairment had minor to extreme hearing loss. Unexpectedly, a hearing aid was used by only 20 percent of those people.
These findings are backed up by patients who were concerned that they might have symptoms of Alzheimer’s according to a clinical neuropsychologist who authored the study. In many circumstances, the reason for that patient’s visit to the doctor was because of their shortened attention span or a failure to remember things their partner said to them and in many cases, it was the patient’s loved one who recommended a check-up with a doctor.
The Line is Blurred Between Hearing Loss And Alzheimer’s
While loss of hearing may not be the first thing an aging adult considers when dealing with potential mental damage, it’s easy to understand how someone can mistake it for Alzheimer’s.
Having your good friend ask you for a favor is a scenario that you can be easily imagined. As an example, perhaps they are looking for a ride to the airport for an upcoming trip. What if you couldn’t hear their question clearly? Would you ask them to repeat it? Is there any way you would know that you were supposed to drive them if you didn’t hear them the second time?
It’s possible that some people could have misdiagnosed themselves with Alzheimer’s because of this type of thinking according to hearing professionals. Instead, it could very well be an ongoing and progressive hearing problem. If you didn’t hear what someone said, then you can’t be expected to remember it.
There Are Ways to Treat Gradual Hearing Loss Which is a Normal Condition
Considering the relationship between aging and an increased likelihood of hearing loss, it’s no surprise that people of a certain age may be experiencing these issues. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) estimates that only 2 percent of adults aged 45 to 54 have debilitating hearing loss. Meanwhile, that number jumps significantly for older age brackets, coming in at 8.5 percent for 55- to 64-year-olds; 25 percent for 65- to 74-year-olds; and 50 percent for those 75-years or older.
Gradual loss of hearing, which is a common part of aging, often goes untreated because people just accept it as part of life. In fact, it takes about 10 years on average for a person to get treatment for loss of hearing. Worse yet, less than 25 percent of people will end up purchasing hearing aids even when they really need them.
Is it Possible That You Might Have Hearing Loss?
If you’ve ever truly wondered if you were one of the millions of Americans with loss of hearing severe enough that it needs to be addressed, there are a number of revealing signs you should consider. Consider the following questions:
- Do I avoid social situations because holding a conversation in a loud room is difficult?
- Do I always need to turn up the volume on the radio or television to hear?
- How often do I ask people to talk louder or slower?
- If there is a lot of background noise, do I have a problem understanding words?
- Do I have difficulty hearing consonants?
Science has definitely found a link between hearing loss and Alzheimer’s, however they’re not the same. A Johns Hopkins study followed 639 people who noted no mental impairment over a 12 to 18 year period studying their progress and aging. The research discovered that the people who experienced worse hearing at the beginning of the study were more likely to get dementia, an umbrella term used to describe symptoms of diminished memory and thought.
There is one way you might be able to eliminate any possible misunderstandings between hearing loss and Alzheimer’s, and that is to have a hearing assessment. The prevailing thought among the health care community is that this screening should be a routine part of your annual physical, particularly for those who are over 65.
Do You Have Any Questions About Hearing Loss?
We can help with a complete hearing evaluation if you think there is a chance you might be confusing loss of hearing with Alzheimer’s. Make your appointment for an exam today.