An underlying fear of Alzheimer’s disease runs rampant among seniors who deal with the symptoms of memory loss and diminished mental function. However, recent research indicates at least some of that worry might be unfounded and that these problems might be the consequences of a far more treatable condition.
According to a report that appeared in a Canadian medical journal, the symptoms that actually might be the results of neglected hearing loss are sometimes mistaken as the consequence of Alzheimer’s.
In the Canadian study, researchers looked for connections to brain conditions by carefully evaluating participants functional abilities related to thought and memory. 56 percent of those assessed for cognitive impairment had minor to extreme hearing loss. Unexpectedly, a hearing aid was worn by only 20 percent of those.
A clinical neuropsychologist who was one of the study’s authors said the findings back up anecdotal evidence they’ve observed when seeing patients who are concerned that they might have Alzheimer’s. In many instances, it was a patient’s loved ones who recommended the appointment because they observed gaps in memory or shortened attention.
The Line Between Alzheimer’s And Loss of Hearing is Blurred
While hearing loss might not be the first thing an aging adult thinks of when dealing with potential cognitive decline, it’s easy to understand how one can confuse it with Alzheimer’s.
Think of a scenario where your best friend asks you for a favor. As an example, let’s say they need a ride to the airport for an upcoming trip. What would happen if you couldn’t hear their question clearly? Would you ask them to repeat it? If you still aren’t certain what they said, is there any possible way you would recognize that you were supposed to drive them to the airport?
It’s that line of thinking that leads hearing specialists to believe some people could be diagnosing themselves inaccurately with Alzheimer’s. 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 Gradual Hearing Loss, Which is a Normal Condition, Can be Treated
Considering the link between aging and an increased probability of hearing loss, it’s not surprising that people of a certain age may be having these issues. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) states that only 2 percent of adults aged 45 to 54 have debilitating loss of hearing. In the meantime, that number goes up dramatically 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.
Though it’s true that gradual loss of hearing is a typical trait of growing older, people often just accept it because they believe it’s just a part of life. The truth is, the average time it takes for somebody to seek treatment for loss of hearing is about 10 years. Worse yet, less than 25 percent of people will end up purchasing hearing aids even when they really need them.
Could You be Suffering From Hearing Loss?
If you’ve ever truly wondered whether you were one of the millions of Americans with hearing loss serious enough that it needs to be addressed, there are a number of revealing signs you should consider. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Is hearing consonants difficult?
- Do I avoid social situations because holding a conversation in a busy room is hard?
- Do I have to turn up the radio or TV to hear them.
- If there is a lot of background sound, do I have an issue understanding words?
- How often do I ask people to speak slower or louder?
Science has positively found a connection between hearing loss and Alzheimer’s, however they’re not the same. A Johns Hopkins study analyzed the mental capabilities of 639 people who noted no mental impairments, then followed their progress and aging for 12 to 18 years. The results discovered that the people who had worse hearing at the onset of the study were more likely to get dementia, an umbrella term used to describe symptoms of diminished memory and thought.
Getting a hearing evaluating is one way you can prevent any misunderstandings between Alzheimer’s and loss of hearing. This should be a part of your regular yearly physical particularly if you are over 65 years old.
Do You Have Any Questions About Hearing Loss?
If you think you could be confusing loss of hearing with Alzheimer’s, we can help you with a complete hearing assessment. Schedule your appointment for an exam today.