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When Cognition & Hearing Loss Collide
By Jennifer Bradley, Staff Writer
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
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
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.
If a loved one cups their hand
behind an ear when listening.
If the television or radio
volume is louder than usual.
If a loved one says they are
experiencing ringing or buzzing in one or both ears,
or is dizzy often.
If a loved one is leaning
forward or turning their head to be able to listen
to a conversation.
If a loved one is beginning to
avoid certain situations because they have a hard