Although it may sound a bit absurd, there is a definite correlation between hearing loss and the onset of dementia. Consider living in a world where every sound is distorted and the voices you hear sound like they are coming through a bucket of water. It would be quite frustrating and after a time you may simply stop trying to interact. This is what older people experience as a natural part of aging and why it is important to understand why age contributes to hearing loss, how it affects our lives and how hearing aids can slow the progression of dementia.
Understanding Age Related Hearing Loss
Before getting into the debate over whether or not hearing loss can speed up the progression of dementia, it is probably a good idea to understand how age affects our ability to hear. We all know that both men and women experience hair loss as they age, but most of us don’t equate that with hearing loss. Part of the hearing mechanism in our ears is the presence of tiny hairs (cilia) that help to reverberate and transmit sound as it passes through. We are just as susceptible to losing hair in our ears as we are on any other area of the body and this is a primary cause of age related hearing loss.
The Great Debate: Can Hearing Aids Slow the Progression of Dementia?
Recent medical research has proven, without a doubt, that hearing loss can speed the progression of dementia as evidenced by studies released by major medical teaching and research universities in the United States. Without listing facts and figures, their findings indicate that when we lose our ability to hear sounds (especially speech) we simply stop trying to interact with others. A large part of keeping the brain healthy is cognition and if we can’t understand what is happening around us it is like living in a fog, set apart from reality. This is what dementia is, for the most part, so is it any wonder that older adults live in the past? There is nothing in their present to hold their attention so they turn back to memories instead.
Hearing Aids Enable Seniors to Make Sense of the World around Them
Even though these studies fell short of empirically stating that hearing aids can slow the onset or progression of dementia, they alluded to the fact that hearing loss is a major contributor to senility/dementia. Many families have welcomed their mother or father ‘back to the land of the living’ once they had been fitted with the appropriate hearing aid. They report that it is now possible to carry on conversations whereas before it seemed as though mum or dad had no interest in taking part in family activities. Is it any wonder?
If you suffer from age related hearing loss, don’t be afraid to step forward and seek help. Old age creeps up unawares but there is no reason to stop living just yet. With restored hearing you can enjoy your family, a film on telly or even a night out at your favourite restaurant. Break free from the fog that has separated you from your loved ones and you will see how quickly you can enjoy life in the here and now. Why resort to memories when there are still many more to be made?
Bio: Adam is interested in all things related to hearing loss and as a writer and researcher for www.yourhearing.co.uk, age related hearing loss especially important to him. One in three older adults is afflicted with hearing loss so it is his goal to help them make sense of the world around them.