September marks World Alzheimer’s Month. Launched in 2012, this global campaign promotes advocacy and raises awareness about dementia. According to Alzheimer’s Disease International, an estimated 55 million live with dementia worldwide. This is expected to rapidly increase, reaching 139 million people by 2050. Dementia encompasses a range of medical conditions that take a toll on cognitive functions. The most common type is Azhiemer’s which impacts up to 70% of people who have dementia. There are no cures for dementia and cognitive decline is irreversible.
Taking a hearing test and treating hearing loss is an effective preventative pressure that protects brain health. This World Alzheimer’s Month is a great reminder to prioritize your hearing health and wellness.
Link Between Hearing Loss & Alzheimer’s
You may be wondering how exactly hearing loss and Alzheimer’s are connected. Well, extensive research shows that hearing loss is a factor that can significantly increase the risk of cognitive decline. This includes a 2019 study published in the Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association that included evaluating the cognitive and hearing capacities of 10,107 people, ages 62 and older. Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School conducted this study and assessed participants over 8 years. They found that people with hearing loss were much more likely to experience cognitive decline.
Compared to participants without hearing loss, cognitive decline among those with hearing loss was:
- 30% higher among people with mild hearing loss
- 42% higher among people with moderate hearing loss
- 54% higher among people with severe hearing loss
These findings highlight a significant correlation between hearing loss and cognitive decline. This study is part of the extensive research that identifies hearing loss as a risk factor for cognitive decline. Experts suggest that hearing loss can impact brain health in several significant ways – brain atrophy, cognitive overload, reduced stimulation etc. This emphasizes the importance of intervening and treating hearing loss which can prevent these outcomes.
Hearing Aids Improve Brain Health
There are effective ways that hearing loss is treated. The most common treatment option is hearing aids – electronic devices that are designed to absorb, amplify, adn process speech as well as sound. Studies show that hearing aids boost brain health by strengthening cognitive functions. This includes the following studies:
- 2020 Study Published in Science Daily: examining the impact of hearing aids on cognitive health, researchers at the University of Melbourne assessed almost100 people, ages 62-82. Participants’ cognitive capacities were assessed before wearing hearing aids and 18 months after wearing hearing aids. Researchers found that “97% of participants showed either clinically significant improvement or stability in executive function (mental ability to plan, organize information and initiate tasks)”.
- 2018 Study Published in the Journal of American Geriatrics Society: this study involved evaluating hearing aid use on brain health for over 2,000 people. Researchers did this by conducting memory tests every two years for 18 years. After analyzing results, researchers found that hearing aids used improved scores on memory tests.
These findings show that wearing hearing aids strengthen cognitive functions and support brain health. This can help prevent cognitive decline and the development of conditions like Alzheimer’s.
Treating Hearing Loss
There are a wide range of hearing healthcare services, resources, and hearing solutions that are available to you. The first step is to schedule an appointment for a hearing test. This involves a painless and noninvasive process that measures hearing capacity in both ears. Hearing tests identify hearing loss, the type as well as degree of hearing impairment. Once this information is established, your hearing healthcare provider is able to recommend treatment options that can effectively meet your hearing needs.
Hearing aids, the most common treatment, are more advanced than ever before. There is an array of options, styles, and technologies that maximize hearing in all environments. Today’s hearing aids are sleek and savvy pieces of wearable technology that easily integrate into daily life. Treating hearing loss and wearing hearing aids offer numerous benefits including strengthening communication, enriching social life, and improving relationships. Treatment also supports brain health and reduces the risk of cognitive decline.
World Alzheimer’s Month is a great reminder to prioritize your hearing health. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a hearing consultation.