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How Are Hearing Loss & Alzheimer’s Connected?

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Hearing loss can be challenging to manage on its own, and studies have revealed there may be direct links with the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Families providing Phoenix, AZ, in-home care for their elderly loved ones need to be aware of these links between hearing loss and Alzheimer’s so they can take the necessary preventative measures. 

Changes the Brain’s Structure 

Seniors with hearing loss generally have less gray matter in the part of the brain responsible for receiving and processing information. The brain cannot process the sounds from the ears, which causes brain cells to shrink due to lack of stimulation. When the brain structure is damaged, it leads to cognitive conditions, including memory loss. Using hearing aids can help these brain structures recover, return to their true size, and function normally. 

Leads to Social Isolation

If your loved one has difficulty carrying on conversations with others, he or she is less likely to socialize. Being isolated is one of the risk factors associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Social isolation disrupts the proteins that are crucial to the development of the nervous system, which prevents new cells from developing and leads to memory loss. Encourage your loved one to continue socializing with others, including family, friends, and support groups, and develop ways for him or her to socialize without feeling uncomfortable due to impaired hearing. 

Causes Stress on the Brain

Many seniors with hearing loss could develop a condition known as cognitive load, which makes it difficult to understand others and causes anxiety due to not being understood. The stress can cause long-term anxiety that leads to inflammation in the brain. Inflammation contributes to Alzheimer’s disease as well as other neurodegenerative conditions. You can communicate better when speaking to your loved one by:

  • Keeping your hands away from the face 
  • Maintaining eye contact 
  • Speaking naturally 
  • Rephrasing instead of repeating
  • Going into a room without background noise 
  • Speaking in areas with good lighting 

Speeds Up Cognitive Decline 

If your loved one is already experiencing symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s, hearing loss could exacerbate them and progress the disease. Because the brain and body have to rededicate sources to help with hearing, it takes away from the working memory. Instead of getting better, the symptoms worsen, speeding up cognitive decline. 

Some of Alzheimer’s symptoms that hearing loss can make worse include:

  • Lost ability to learn new things 
  • Lack of alertness 
  • Fatigue 
  • Stress 
  • Irritability 
  • Depression
  • Impaired memory

If your loved one needs help managing the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, turn to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of Phoenix, AZ, Alzheimer’s care. We offer a program called the Cognitive Therapeutics Method, which uses mentally stimulating activities to help slow cognitive decline and delay the onset of dementia. Call 602.388.1085 today to learn more about our Alzheimer’s care services and schedule a free in-home consultation.