|National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month and Early DiagnosisThe Better Hearing Institute (BHI), is promoting National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month and is urging caregivers to address hearing loss in people with Alzheimer’s. BHI seeks to raise awareness of the importance of early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, the relationship between Alzheimer’s and hearing loss, and the importance of addressing hearing loss in people with Alzheimer’s.
There are many families within our community coping with Alzheimer’s and the challenges it presents. We want to help ensure that the hearing health of those in our community with Alzheimer’s is appropriately managed. Hearing loss, when left unaddressed, can compound the difficulties that people with Alzheimer’s and their families already face. But in many cases, the appropriate use of hearing aids can benefit Alzheimer’s patients.
There is strong evidence that hearing impairment contributes to the progression of cognitive dysfunction in older adults. Unmanaged hearing loss can interrupt the cognitive processing of spoken language and sound, regardless of other coexisting conditions. But when an individual has both Alzheimer’s and hearing loss, many of the symptoms of hearing loss can interact with those common to Alzheimer’s, making the disease more difficult than it might be if the hearing loss had been addressed.
Studies have shown that although a significantly higher percentage of patients with Alzheimer’s disease may have hearing loss than their normally aging peers, they are much less likely to receive attention for their hearing needs.
A comprehensive hearing assessment should be part of any Alzheimer’s diagnosis and any hearing loss should be addressed. By addressing the hearing loss, we can help improve quality-of-life for those who have Alzheimer’s and help them live as fully as possible.
Numerous studies have linked untreated hearing loss to a wide range of physical and emotional conditions, including impaired memory and ability to learn new tasks, reduced alertness, increased risk to personal safety, irritability, negativism, anger, fatigue, tension, stress, depression, and diminished psychological and overall health.
Sergei Kochkin, PhD, BHI’s executive director says: “Alzheimer’s disease is a heart-wrenching illness that poses many challenges for the individual, family, and caregiver. Early detection, diagnosis, and intervention are critical because they provide the best opportunities for treatment, support, and planning. Now, with the holidays upon us, when we are seeing family and friends more frequently after many months, it is important that each of us remain vigilant to the early signs of Alzheimer’s in the people we love.”
For more information about the 10 warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease, early detection and diagnosis, contact the Alzheimer’s Association at 877.IS.IT.ALZ (877.474.8259) or visit www.alz.org/10signs.