Recent global research has highlighted a link between hearing loss and dementia. Even mild hearing loss is now believed to double your risk of developing dementia and the risk level increases the more severe your hearing loss.
The signs and symptoms of the 2 conditions are very similar. Not responding when asked a question, or struggling to follow a conversation could be symptoms of language and understanding problems associated with dementia, or could be the result of hearing loss.
As a result it is often hard to separate the signs of hearing loss from those of dementia, and often one condition can mask the other.
Tackling hearing loss and reducing the symptoms of dementia
Simply being aware that hearing loss could potentially be the cause of some of a person’s difficulties is therefore very important.
Living with both conditions together is obviously much harder than coping with either on its own, and unaddressed hearing loss may exacerbate dementia-related behaviours such as aggression and anxiety.
“Both dementia and hearing loss can have an impact on how someone copes day to day – for example, making it harder to communicate. They can also both lead to increased social isolation, loss of independence, and problems with everyday activities, and as a result make the person’s dementia seem worse.” Alzheimer’s Society
Fortunately there are things we can do that will help …
Organise regular hearing checks
These help ensure that people are able to make the most of the hearing they do have, and treatment can provide hearing aids if necessary.
Improve the environment
Simple measures like reducing background noise and removing distractions can make it easier for someone to follow what is being said and join in a conversation.
Use gestures and expressions
Making sure the person can see your face when you’re talking to them will help them pick up on your expressions and body language.
Use visual prompts and clues to help.
Northfield House is a specialist provider of dementia care in Stroud.
We pride ourselves on our warm welcoming atmosphere so please give us a ring on 01453 488060 to arrange a visit. You’ll be able to experience for yourself our strong sense of community and the opportunities we offer for friendship and support.