Deficient hearing has been linked to a greater risk of dementia, poor cognitive function and falling in the elderly, according to a recent study at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. The impact of hearing loss on the aging isn’t inconsequential and should be treated.

“When you have hearing loss, your brain has to work harder to decode and process sound,” explained lead study author Frank Lin, an assistant professor of otolaryngology and epidemiology at Johns Hopkins. If your brain has to reallocate resources to hearing, it probably comes at the expense of cognition or thinking ability. Another study, conducted at the University of Washington’s Department of Medicine looked at 100 cases of Alzheimer’s disease compared to the general population. The researchers found that 83% of those hospitalized for dementia, had hearing loss. More importantly, once fit with hearing aids, 33% were classified with less severe dementia. Another study from 2011 by John Hopkins and the National Institute on Aging found a similar link. The common symptoms and warning signs of Alzheimer’s include:

•     Memory Loss

•     Misplacing Things

•     Difficulty with familiar tasks

•     Disorientated with Time/Place

•     Changes in mood or behavior

•     Changes in personality

•     Loss of Initiative

Many of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s can be caused by other impairments, such as hearing loss. If a loved one is displaying symptoms of not remembering dates or appointments, withdrawal, personality changes and inappropriate responses to questions, one of the first steps is to have their hearing evaluated. By finding the origins of their specific symptoms, a more effective treatment plan can be implemented. In other words, by treating the hearing loss, the effects of the Alzheimer’s become more apparent.

Dr. Amy Holland is an expert on hearing loss in the aging population, and eager to serve as a valuable team member in the care of your elderly patients. Her practice is fully equipped with state-of-the-art instruments for both the evaluation of and treatment for, hearing loss. She is passionate about helping patients and their families understand the complicated effects of hearing loss, guiding them through the treatment process and returning them to a life rich with sound again. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Holland, please fill out the Contact Us form.