Hello, and welcome to December! November just whizzed right by. If you stop by often then you know November was Dementia awareness month and I have extended it into December. I am not sure that I will still get all of the information covered, but it gives me something to talk about for next year, lol.
If you remember, the first modifiable risk factor was education, especially in early life. Today, I am going to discuss hearing loss and how it is connected to Dementia.
When I first read the study I was shocked to learn that hearing loss is a risk factor for Dementia, especially since I live in the USA and hearing aids are not covered by Medicare or even most private insurance. Plus, they are very expensive! This seems like such an easy issue to fix in some regards by just making hearing aids more accessible to people. I mean the risk is huge! We can do better than this America! The video below is an Audiologist talking about hearing loss and the risk to Dementia.
Before I talk about diagnosing and treating hearing loss, I want to talk about why hearing loss is a risk factor for Dementia. You can read the article here, but to sum it up hearing loss may lead to faster brain atrophy, can lead to isolation, depression, and decreased communication skills. Plus, loss of hearing, believe it or not, can affect balance when you walk, which can affect safety and lead to falls.
What are signs that you may have hearing loss?
- The most obvious would be that you turn TV, and radio up to very high levels.
- You might say huh a lot when talking to others. You might not understand what others are saying in a conversation.
- Twisting your head or body to hear better.
- You miss phone calls, knocks at the door, doorbells, or even alarms going off.
- You feel exhausted in group conversations due to straining to hear what is being said.
How do you have your hearing tested?
- If you are over 18 a hearing test every 3 to 5 years is recommended, unless you have existing hearing loss already. An Audiologist can test your hearing and give you advise.
- There are actual hearing self tests you can do on your own via phone apps. I just put one on my phone. I don’t think I have hearing loss, matter of fact mine is pretty acute, but I would like to test my husband as well.
- Hearing loss could be as simple as wax build up in the ear. That is why your doctor looks in there, or one of the reasons.
- The whisper test, and tuning forks are other ways that hearing can be tested.
How is hearing loss treated?
- The most common way that people think of treating hearing loss is with a hearing aid. As I have already discussed most people don’t have access or funds to purchase a hearing aid. This website has the most comprehensive information on programs to help people afford a hearing aid. Please check it out, if you or a loved one has hearing loss.
- Remove ear wax blockage. That one just makes sense. Just make sure you have a trained professional do it.
- There are some types of hearing loss that can be fixed by inserting tubes into the ears, or other procedures, to improve hearing.
- Cochlear implants which may actually be covered by Medicare or Medicaid are the newest option for hearing loss. I will be talking a lot more about Medicare in the near future.
The bottom line is to please have a hearing test done at least every 3 years to catch hearing loss early. I can not recall exactly when I had one done, but it wasn’t too awful long ago.
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