Hearing Loss and Dementia in Seniors
Many seniors often experience hearing loss, which can upset them and affect their quality of life. While it can be frustrating, hearing loss can also affect their cognitive health, impair memory, impact social interactions, and increase dementia risk.
Early cognitive decline and memory loss occur more commonly in people with hearing loss, and studies show that patients with dementia have a higher rate of hearing loss when compared to the general population. According to research from Johns Hopkins clinicians:
- Mild hearing loss doubles dementia risk
- Moderate hearing loss triples dementia risk
- Severe hearing loss is associated with a five-times-higher dementia risk
If your senior is living with hearing loss, visit a physician for proper evaluation and treatment to help reduce associated risks and improve quality of life.
Whether your loved one is having difficulty hearing or needs dementia care, Visiting Angels in-home care providers can offer compassionate support to address their personal needs.
Hearing Loss Symptoms Overlap With Dementia Symptoms
Hearing loss in older adults can be challenging to diagnose without an audiology exam because it often leads to symptoms that overlap with dementia symptoms, including avoiding social settings, difficulty understanding speech, repeating questions, memory loss, difficulty following conversations, and inappropriate word choices.
However, you might notice your senior shows other signs of hearing loss, including:
- Asking you to speak louder, more slowly, or more clearly
- Difficulty understanding conversation in noisy, crowded places
- Turning up the volume on the TV or radio
People with hearing loss may also perform poorly on dementia screening tests due to their inability to understand the questions. This could lead to an inaccurate dementia diagnosis.
If you notice any of these symptoms in your loved one, you should schedule a visit with their primary care provider and a qualified audiologist. Talk to your loved one’s physician to determine if hearing or cognitive health exams should be part of their annual preventive care routine.
How is Hearing Loss Treated?
Hearing loss treatment typically includes hearing aids, and a qualified audiologist can recommend the best option for your senior.
However, if hearing aids aren’t an option due to cost or other factors, an audiologist can suggest alternative devices or strategies to improve communications — such as speaking clearly and slowly, facing your loved one so they can see your mouth, reducing background noise, and avoiding situations where multiple people are talking at the same time.
Benefits of Hearing Loss Treatment
Preventing or treating hearing loss as soon as symptoms develop can significantly impact your senior’s cognitive health and overall well-being. In addition to being able to engage in conversation and social interaction more easily, improving hearing may also reduce social isolation-related symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Some experts believe that improved hearing — and the enhanced social interaction that results — may provide the cognitive stimulation older adults need to stay mentally sharp. Evidence suggests that treating hearing loss may improve memory and cognitive function, reducing the risk of dementia or slowing disease progression.
How Visiting Angels Can Help With Your Senior’s Hearing Loss
If your loved one is living with dementia, hearing loss, or another health condition, having the support and companionship of a professional, in-home caregiver can provide them with the socialization and cognitive stimulation they need to stay active and engaged.
Visiting Angels will use strategies to communicate effectively with your loved one, remind them to use their hearing aids when necessary, and report any changes in your loved one’s hearing or cognitive health.