Signs of memory problems may be symptoms of hearing loss.



Signs of memory problems may be symptoms of hearing loss.

An older adult trying on a hearing aid. Credit: Baycrest

Older adults worried about showing early symptoms of Alzheimer's disease should also consider a hearing test, suggest recent findings.

What appear to be signs of memory loss may actually indicate hearing problems, says Dr. Susan Vandermorris, one of the study's authors and clinical neuropsychologist at Baycrest.

A recent study by Baycrest, published in the Canadian Journal on Aging, found that the majority (56 percent) of participants badessed for memory and thinking problems and possible brain disorders had some form of mild to severe hearing loss, but only about 20 percent of people used hearing aids. Among the participants, a quarter of them showed no signs of memory loss due to a brain disorder.

"We commonly see clients who are worried about Alzheimer's disease because their partner complains that they do not seem to pay attention, they do not seem to hear or they do not remember what they are told," says Dr. Vandermorris. "Sometimes, dealing with hearing loss can mitigate or solve what seems to be a memory problem – a person will not remember something to be told if they did not hear it correctly."

Hearing loss is the third most common chronic health condition in older adults, experienced by 50 percent of people over 65 and 90 percent of people over 80. It takes an average of 10 years before people seek treatment and less than 25 percent of people who need hearing aids will buy them.

Dr. Vandermorris adds that the state of hearing is not always addressed in neuropsychology clinics, but it can affect performance in verbally performed memory badessments.

"Some people may be reluctant to address hearing loss, but they should be aware that hearing health is brain health and help is available," he adds.

The study badyzed the results of 20 individuals who were receiving a neuropsychological evaluation in Baycrest. Participants completed a hearing screening after their cognitive badessment.

Neuropsychologists were aware of the results of the tests after their initial evaluation, which altered some of their recommendations. For example, some clients were referred to a hearing clinic for a full audiological evaluation or to consider the use of a hearing aid, in addition to receiving education about hearing loss and communication.

"Since hearing loss has been identified as a major and potentially modifiable risk factor for dementia, treating it can be a way for people to reduce risk," says Marilyn Reed, another study author and practice advisor. of the audiology department of Baycrest. "People who can not hear well have difficulty communicating and tend to withdraw from social activities as a way to cope with them, which can lead to isolation and loneliness, which can affect cognitive, physical and mental health."

This study is based on previous research that badyzed how to address memory problems could benefit older adults seeking treatment for hearing loss.

"We are beginning to learn more about the important role that hearing plays in the brain health of our aging population," says Dr. Kate Dupuis, lead author of the study, a former postdoctoral fellow at Baycrest, a clinical neuropsychologist and innovation leader of Schlegel at Sheridan Center for Elder Research. "To provide the best care for our senior clients, it is imperative that neuropsychologists and hearing professionals work together to address the common occurrence of cognitive and auditory loss in people."

Since the studies, the Neuropsychology and Cognitive Health Program and the Baycrest Hearing Services have incorporated the general badessment of hearing and memory problems in their evaluations, as well as providing educational materials to clients.

The next steps for the study will include the optimization of hearing loss detection strategies in memory badessments and ongoing interprofessional collaborations to create educational tools that advise clients on the relationship between hearing, memory, and memory. cerebral health.


To avoid late depression, check your hearing


More information:
Kate Dupuis et al, Considering hearing loss related to age in neuropsychological practice: findings of a feasibility study, Canadian Journal on Aging / La Revue canadienne du vieillissement (2018). DOI: 10.1017 / S0714980818000557

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Signs of memory problems may be symptoms of hearing loss (2019, January 21)
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