Hear well, think well
Updated: July 2, 2012 8:24AM
New research from Johns Hopkins Department of Medicine and Center on Aging has documented a link between hearing loss and dementia. The articles have appeared in the prestigious Journal of Gerontology and the Archives of Neurology in 2011, and most recently in JAMA, in 2012. Frank Lin, M.D., who is an otolaryngologist as well as an epidemiologist, is lead investigator and author.
Mild hearing loss (which causes an individual to experience problems hearing in difficult listening environments such as restaurants) was associated with two times the risk. Moderate hearing loss had three times the risk and severe hearing loss had five times the risk. For every decrement of 10 decibels on the audiogram (diagram representation of a hearing test), the risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease increased by 20 percent.
Alzheimer’s disease constitutes approximately 80 percent of dementia cases. The condition has currently afflicted 5.4 million Americans (one in eight older adults) and every 68 seconds, someone in America will develop the disease. It is the only disease in the top ten causes of death in the U.S. that has no means of treatment or cure.
Dementia is a serious public health concern that not only has devastating impact on individuals, families, and communities but it also has financial ramifications that are staggering. In the U.S. alone, $200 billion will be spent this year on medical care for the disease with spending anticipated to increase by 500 percent by the year 2050.
As a Doctor of Audiology, I serve as a research collaborator for Dr. Lin. Our jointly developed methods we are implementing to address this issue, include recommended hearing management strategies that are “grossly underutilized.” The provision of hearing aids constitutes only a small segment of the solution.
One of those methods to provide Audibility Everywhere is hearing loops. See Sertoma’s Hearing Charities of America newly released video on the topic www.youtube.com.
The nationwide installation of hearing loops is endorsed not only by those with hearing loss (Hearing Loss Association of America), but also by those who treat hearing loss (the American Academy of Audiology).
Linda S. Remensnyder
Doctor of Audiology