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When Cognition & Hearing Loss Collide
By Jennifer Bradley, Staff Writer

(Page 2 of 2)

Caregiving advocates are using this study to tell those who care for loved ones to pay attention, and ask for audiology tests to be a part of annual exams. Professionals say that many seniors put off addressing hearing loss for as long as 20 years, without realizing the more severe consequences they can have long term. Lin believes a fair estimate is that as many as 27 million Americans more than 50 years of age, and two-thirds of men and women older than 70, have some form of hearing loss. The bigger concern, he believes, is that only 15 percent of those who need hearing assistance devices actually use one.

Barbara Weinstein says that a limitation to Lin’s study is the reliance on the Modified Mini-Mental State Exam, which uses an interviewer to ask questions. She is a professor and head of the audiology program at CUNY’s Graduate Center.

Research that Weinstein has done reveals that seniors with hearing loss may not understand verbally asked questions and answer incorrectly.

Lin is addressing this through hopefully another research project to follow a group of seniors and test whether the interventions for hearing loss, such as hearing aids, will help prevent the onset or slow cognitive decline.

Until those numbers become available, experts agree that the first step in preventing this collide of hearing and cognitive loss is recognizing it before any situation worsens.

HOW TO RECOGNIZE HEARING LOSS IN A LOVED ONE

  1. If a loved one is asking others to repeat what they’ve said, and says people are always mumbling or not speaking clearly. Pay attention if other family members recognize the loved one is not hearing well.

  2. If a loved one cups their hand behind an ear when listening.

  3. If the television or radio volume is louder than usual.

  4. If a loved one says they are experiencing ringing or buzzing in one or both ears, or is dizzy often.

  5. If a loved one is leaning forward or turning their head to be able to listen to a conversation.

  6. If a loved one is beginning to avoid certain situations because they have a hard time hearing.

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