How Does Dementia Affect Your Loved One's "Hearing?"

When your loved one gets older, you may begin to notice the beginnings of hearing loss. Your loved one may ask you to repeat statements or they may not know that you had spoken at all. Hearing loss is associated with dementia. If you realize your loved one’s hearing isn’t what it used to be, know that there are solutions that can help them. Taking action can help prevent cognitive decline.  

“Hearing loss can cause frustration and confusion. Our communities understand the obstacles that hearing loss creates. We can help our residents find solutions that will help them live fuller and more engaging lives,” says Andrea Sharpiro, Community Relations Director of YourLife™ of Coconut Creek. 

Hearing 101: The Basics of Auditory Processing

When you hear a noise, the brain takes in the sound and processes it so you can identify it. Then, the brain analyzes the sound and provides meaning. Through this, you can tell the difference between sounds, take in information, and recall past information – or memories. 

When someone cannot hear well, their brains don’t go through this complex process. Their brain has to work harder to process the sound. Over time, this strain can take a major toll on a senior’s brain. The energy that could be going into cognitive abilities like memory and thinking is now going toward hearing.

When your loved one’s brain is overwhelmed, this can lead to rapid decline. Hearing loss can increase the chances of brain atrophy, which increases the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s and other forms of memory loss. 

How Does Memory Play a Role in Auditory Processing?

Auditory processing is essential for memory. Working memory, which is a process of manipulating information. Short-term memory is a part of this process, which stores the new memory for a short time. But this entire process begins with hearing. 

When a senior cannot hear, this process may not function as well. As a result, remembering things that have just happened can be a struggle. While losing hearing can be frustrating, it can also be dangerous. 

What Other Risks Does Hearing Loss Pose to Seniors?

Hearing loss can present other dangers in addition to cognitive decline. Auditory input provides the brain with information to help with balance. When the brain doesn’t receive this data, it can make your loved one more likely to fall. 

Other physical dangers include not hearing a smoke alarm or carbon monoxide alarm. They could be in a dangerous situation and not be aware that they need to get out and get help.

Unfortunately, loss of hearing can also create tense and frustrating situations for both the senior and their caregiver. The senior may not be able to make out what others are saying and therefore, auditory processing does not occur. The caregiver could feel frustrated from having to repeat themselves or speak at high volumes to be heard, but they also realize what’s happening. 

Your loved one may also have more instances of feeling isolated. When they’re not able to hear clearly, they may be less inclined to participate in conversations or keep up with social activities. 

When mobility and personal connection are affected, your loved one’s brain function slows and their quality of life suffers. However, when you notice these signs and take action, small changes can help your loved one keep their brain active and healthy. One of these changes can be using medical devices like hearing aids. They allow the brain to not have to work as hard to detect noise and that energy can go to other functions.

If your loved one gets hearing aids, this can help prevent memory loss or provide relief for those who have dementia. While making the move to using hearing aids can be a big step for seniors, the team at YourLife™ of Coconut Creek is here to support you and your loved one in providing them with the care they deserve.

Are You Searching for a Caring Community for Your Loved One? 

YourLife™ of Coconut Creek understands the unique care that each resident requires so they can maintain physical, mental, and social health. We have expert services to create personal care plans that will address your loved one’s needs. 

Our experienced and compassionate staff are proud to provide excellent care and programming to residents with hearing loss. We also conduct memory screening to find out more about the care your loved one needs. 

If you’re interested in scheduling a private memory screening for your loved one at YourLife™ of Coconut Creek, you can reach out to us here.