Dementia and Hearing loss

Dementia is a condition which affects brain function. There are various types of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia. They all have similar symptoms including memory loss, mood changes and communication difficulties

Generally patients with dementia will get worse with time. There will be a gradual deterioration in the person’s ability to carry out daily activities such as washing, dressing and feeding

Effect on communication

Their ability to communicate becomes affected as they find it more difficult to talk, write and read

As their communication abilities become more impaired, the ability to share thoughts and ideas, to argue or to laugh over a joke becomes more difficult

The families and carers of people with dementia must learn to rely on alternative methods, rather than talking and listening they must use gestures and facial expressions

Hearing loss and dementia

A hearing loss alone, without the effects of dementia, also affects the ability to communicate effectively. The severity of the loss is linked with a reduced quality of life. Even a mild hearing loss can create a negative social impact. Conversations may become less fluid and interactions in noisy places can become problematic

An untreated hearing loss can have a psychological impact as people tend to become isolated as they partake in fewer social activities

Age-related hearing losses affect the high pitches, whilst the low pitches remain near normal. This means that a speech sounds unclear, rather than quiet. This constant ‘listening’ to conversations especially in background noise can lead to concentration difficulties

People often report feelings of anger and frustration at themselves and others as they often mis-hear what is being said. Hearing loss adversely affects quality of life, but studies have shown  that this is reversible with hearing aids

There is an association between hearing impairment and dementia, but there is little evidence to suggest that a hearing impairment alone leads to a decline in brain function. One study found that 50% of people with a mild hearing loss and dementia improved when hearing aids were fitted. They found that hearing aids did not improve their cognitive function or reduce behavioural or psychiatric symptoms but showed that patients improved on global measures of change

In people over the age of 70 years, one in 25 people have dementia and 71% are affected by hearing loss. With approximately 950 care homes in the UK specialising in dementia, it is essential that staff are aware that a simple hearing test can identify an opportunity to improve the quality of life of people with dementia

References

Allen, N. H., Burns, A., Newton, V., Hickson, F., Ramsden, R., Rogers, J. et al. (2003) The effects of dementia. Age and Hearing 32:189-193

Ulmann R, Larson E, Rees T, Koepsell T & Duckert L (1989) Relationship of hearing impairment to dementia and cognitive dysfunction in older adults. JAMA 261(13)1916-1919

Gennis, V., Garry, P., Haaland, K., Yeo, R., & Goodwin, J. (1991) Hearing and cognition in elderly. Arch Internal Medicine. 151 (11):2259-2264

Mulrow CD, Aguilar C, Endicott JE, Tuley MR, Velez R, Charlip WS, Rhodes MC, Hill JA, DeNino LA. (1990) Quality of life changes and hearing impairment. Annals of internal medicine. 113:184-194

Dalton DS, Cruickshanks KJ, Klein BE, Klein R, Wiley TL, Nondahl DM. (2003) The impact of hearing loss on quality of life in older adults. The Gerontologist. 43 (5):661-668

If you would like more impartial advice please contact Anchal Prasher at Barnet Hearing aids, I will be happy to help.

Anchal Prasher is an experienced Audiologist having worked within the NHS and private sector for over 10 years. She started her own hearing aid service in 2009 providing the latest hearing aid technology, assessments and advice. She also manages a new NHS hearing aid service within a group of GP practises. Anchal’s experience ranges from paediatric hearing aid fittings to balance assessments, tinnitus therapy and complex hearing loss issues. She is always at the forefront of changes within Audiology and is registered with all th Anchal Prasher BSc MSc DipCCA RHAD

Audiologist and Hearing aid dispenser

Barnet Hearing Aids

0208 361 5689

Professional bodies (HPC, RCCP, BAA, BSA)

www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk

www.hearinglink.org

 

 

 

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