Hearing loss can be challenging to manage on its own, and studies have revealed hearing loss may be directly linked to the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Families providing care for their elderly loved ones need to be aware of the connections between these two conditions so they can take the necessary preventative measures.
Changes in Brain 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 problems, including memory loss. Using hearing aids can help these brain structures recover, return to their proper size, and function normally.
Living with Alzheimer’s disease can be challenging for older adults. There are many reasons seniors might need assistance at home. Some may require regular mental stimulation due to an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, while others might only need part-time assistance with exercise and basic household tasks. Home Care Assistance is a leading home care service provider. Families rely on our expertly trained caregivers to help their senior loved ones maintain a high quality of life.
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.
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 your face
- Maintaining eye contact
- Speaking naturally
- Rephrasing instead of repeating
- Going into a room without background noise
- Speaking in areas with good lighting
Accelerated Cognitive Decline
If your loved one is already experiencing symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s, hearing loss could exacerbate them and accelerate the progress of the disease. Because the brain and body have to rededicate resources to help with hearing, fewer resources are available for the working memory. Instead of getting better, the symptoms worsen, speeding up cognitive decline. Some Alzheimer’s symptoms that hearing loss can make worse include:
- Lost ability to learn new things
- Lack of alertness
- Impaired memory
Caring for a senior loved one can be challenging for families who don’t have expertise or professional training in home care, but this challenge doesn’t have to be faced alone. Family caregivers can turn to Anchorage Home Care Assistance for the help they need. We provide high-quality live-in and respite care as well as comprehensive Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care.
Tips for Preventing Hearing Loss
Preserving hearing can boost a senior’s general health as well as his or her overall quality of life. Seniors should schedule regular appointments with audiologists to catch minor damage early, and they should also be wary of overusing earphones and earplugs with the volume all the way up. Ear infections and trauma to the ears must be addressed immediately to prevent microscopic fractures and other forms of permanent damage.
If your elderly loved one is living with Alzheimer’s and needs help managing the symptoms, turn to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of Alzheimer’s care. Anchorage seniors can rely on our revolutionary Cognitive Therapeutics Method (CTM), an activities-based program that promotes cognitive health and delays the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. CTM also encourages seniors to engage with others in an enjoyable way and helps them build new routines to look forward to. Call Home Care Assistance at (907) 770-0907 to learn more about our flexible and customizable senior care plans.