Hearing Loss In The Elderly: A Silent Epidemic

Hearing loss in the elderly has been associated with an increased risk for dementia and depressive disorders. It is also believed to be a major contributing factor to Alzheimer’s disease. Many people think that hearing loss is an unfortunate part of the aging process. Often, they try to solve the problem with generic sound amplifiers. When these devices fail to deliver results, they settle for a lesser quality of life.

woman with a hearing aid in

However, there is a viable solution → professional hearing aids.

Hearing Loss In The Elderly And How It Impacts Them

According to the AARP, hearing loss is a silent epidemic. Two-thirds of seniors in their 70s suffer from hearing loss, compared to about 30% of middle-aged Americans. Hearing loss is a significant challenge for the former.

Additionally, many seniors believe that hearing aids are stigmatizing. Their concerns are understandable. In fact, legislators who proposed the first Medicare bill ignored the challenges associated with hearing loss. They excluded hearing aids altogether from the list of Medicare benefits. Today, hearing aids are still excluded and are the financial responsibility of the patient.  Thus, many seniors must live with the perceived stigma of hearing loss and endure a diminished quality of life. They cannot attend movies, plays, or concerts. Additionally, they find it difficult to navigate conversations, particularly when they must contend with background noise.

How The Right Hearing Aids Can Help

Due to cost considerations, many seniors rely on cheap hearing aids that are not programmed to their specific needs. These devices often prove ineffective. They simply amplify all sounds, which is not particularly helpful.

A recent AARP study uncovered even more cause for concern. Experts compared the brains of people from ages 61 to 73 with those from ages 18 to 27. The study found that seniors are less adept at processing conversations when they hear other sounds at the same time. Basically, older adults fared worse than younger people at understanding speech in noisy environments.

Thus, properly configured hearing aids are even more important than previously thought in making a difference in the lives of seniors.

So, if you’re thinking about better solutions for your loved one, contact us. We’re here to help and assure you that we understand your concerns. For more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us at (877) 216-7676. A free phone consultation can help you decide what services might be best. We aim to provide you and your loved one with the assistance they need. If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+, or LinkedIn

Loss of Vision and Hearing May Cause Cognitive Decline in Seniors

It’s not uncommon for seniors to experience hearing and vision loss. Sadly, these changes can cause both physical and emotional hardships. They may feel a loss of independence, an inability to do the things they love, and a disconnect from the world around them. Beyond these discomforts, with the loss of vision and hearing, they may experience cognitive decline.

Read on to learn more about how hearing and vision loss causes dementia and cognitive decline in seniors.

Senior woman inserts hearing aid in her ear learning about Cognitive Decline in Seniors from nurse

Vision Loss and Cognitive Decline in Seniors

The most recent study on the relationship between vision loss and cognitive decline looked at two datasets. This data covered 16 years and included more than 33,000 people aged 60 and up. Published in JAMA Ophthalmology in September 2017, it concluded that “vision dysfunction…was associated with poor cognitive function.”

This confirms a study conducted at the University of Michigan in 2010. This six-year study followed 625 elderly participants and had similar findings. These findings were published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, and concluded that “untreated poor vision is associated with cognitive decline, particularly Alzheimer’s disease.”

Hearing Loss and Cognitive Decline

Hearing loss also plays a part in cognitive decline in seniors. The reason for this is unclear, but there is speculation that  uncorrected deficits in vision and hearing may accelerate this.

The New York Times recently interviewed Dr. Suzann Pershing – lead author of the study and an ophthalmologist at Stanford University School of Medicine – to learn more. Pershing said that “this association doesn’t prove vision loss causes cognitive decline. Intuitively, it makes sense that the less engaged people are with the world, the less cognitive stimulation they receive, and the more likely their cognitive function will decline.”

A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine in 2013 observed 1,984 adults with an average age of 77. The study confirms that “hearing loss is associated with accelerated cognitive decline and incident cognitive impairment.” Also noteworthy, Adults with hearing loss will experience cognitive decline 30-40% faster than those with normal hearing.

A Causal Relationship?

According to Dr. Frank R. Lin, otolaryngologist at the Johns Hopkins Center on Aging and Health, said, “Older adults with hearing loss face an increased risk of dementia even when you control for diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure. So we think they’re causally related.”

There are a few reasons this may happen:

  • hearing-impaired people tend to become isolated and lack stimulation
  • hearing loss causes brain atrophy that affects memory and thinking
  • the brain has to work harder to understand muffled or distorted speech

But There is Hope for Improvement.

Dr. Pershing also said that cognitive function can be improved if vision problems are treated. Regular visits with your ophthalmologist can lead to improvement, and help prevent deterioration.

Almost two-thirds of adults over the age of 70 have hearing loss, yet they remain significantly undertreated. Hearing aids are affordable and accessible. Hearing is again possible with treatment.

Cognitive decline is a problem for seniors, but now that we know the causes we can help prevent deterioration. With this information, our elderly loved ones can live fuller lives, and tackle future health problems.

David York Agency Can Help

Cognitive decline in seniors does not need to be a continuing trend. With the help of trained healthcare professionals your loved ones can learn more about their wellbeing, and fight the problems that come with age. Knowledge and proper care are the keys to living a better life.

If you would like to learn more about David York, please contact us. Our healthcare services are the best available. We provide transportation, care, and companionship to the elderly, as well as specialty services.

For more information about David York Agency’s qualified and compassionate caregivers, contact us at 718.376.7755. A free consultation can help you decide what services will provide the assistance your loved one needs. Also, please like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn. We hope to hear from you soon and look forward to providing the very best in care.