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Puretone Hearing Aid Center - Longview, TX and Shreveport, LA

Woman with hearing loss concerned about Alzheimer's disease and dementia.

An inherent fear of Alzheimer’s disease runs rampant among seniors who struggle with the symptoms of memory loss and impaired cognitive function. However, recent research shows that these issues might be the result of a much more treatable condition and that some of the concern may baseless.

According to a Canadian Medical Journal Study, the symptoms that actually could be the consequences of neglected hearing loss are often mistaken as the product of Alzheimer’s.

In the Canadian study, researchers looked for links to brain disorders by carefully evaluating participants functional abilities pertaining to memory and thought. 56 percent of those examined for cognitive impairment had mild to severe hearing loss. Surprisingly, a hearing aid was worn by only 20 percent of those people.

A clinical neuropsychologist who served as one of the study’s authors said the findings back up anecdotal evidence they’ve observed when examining patients who are concerned that they might have Alzheimer’s. In many instances, the reason for that patient’s visit to the doctor was due to their shortened attention span or a failure to remember things their partner told them and in some cases, it was the patient’s loved one who suggested an appointment with a doctor.

The Blurred Line Between Loss of Hearing And Alzheimer’s

It’s easy to understand how a person could associate cognitive decline with Alzheimer’s because hearing loss is not the first thing that an aging adult would consider.

Think of a situation where your friend asks you for a favor. Case in point, perhaps they are looking for a ride to the airport for an upcoming trip. What if you couldn’t clearly hear them ask? Would you ask them to repeat themselves? Is there any way you would recognize that you were expected to drive them if you didn’t hear them the second time?

It’s likely that some people may have misdiagnosed themselves with Alzheimer’s because of this type of thinking according to hearing specialists. Instead, it could very well be an ongoing and progressive hearing problem. Put simply, you can’t remember something that you don’t hear in the first place.

There Are Ways to Treat Gradual Hearing Loss Which is a Normal Condition

It’s not surprising that people of an advanced age are experiencing these problems given the correlation between aging and the likelihood of having hearing loss. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) reports that just 2 percent of adults aged 45 to 54 have debilitating hearing loss. In the meantime, that number jumps considerably 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 hearing loss, which is a common part of growing older, often goes untreated because people just accept it as part of life. The fact is, the average time it takes for somebody to seek treatment for loss of hearing is about 10 years. Worse, less than 25 percent of people who need hearing aids will actually get them.

Do You Have Hearing Loss?

If you’ve ever really wondered if you were one of the millions of Americans with hearing loss severe enough that it needs to be addressed, there are a number of revealing signs you should consider. Here are a few questions you can ask yourself:

  • Do I always need to raise the volume on the radio or television to hear them?
  • If there is a lot of background sound, do I have a problem comprehending words?
  • Is hearing consonants difficult?
  • Is it hard to have conversations in a noisy room so you stay away from social situations?
  • How often do I ask people to talk slower or louder?

Science has definitely found a link between hearing loss and Alzheimer’s, however they are not the same. A Johns Hopkins study analyzed the mental abilities of 639 people who reported no mental impairments, then followed their progress and aging for 12 to 18 years. The results discovered that the participants who experienced worse hearing at the onset of the study were more likely to develop dementia, a general term used to describe symptoms of diminished memory and thought.

Getting a hearing assessment is one way you can eliminate any confusion between Alzheimer’s and loss of hearing. This should be a part of your regular yearly physical particularly if you 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 possibility you may be confusing hearing loss with Alzheimer’s. Make an appointment for a hearing test right away.