- How Are Hearing Loss and Dementia related?
- What is NeuroTechnology™ for hearing aids?
- How do I take care of my NeuroTechnology™ hearing aid?
- How do I pay for hearing treatment?
- When is the best time to start hearing treatment?
How Are Hearing Loss and Dementia Related?
It (hearing loss) not only increases age-related memory loss, it increases the incidents of Alzheimer’s disease so if you can prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease or delay it with good hearing devices that’s a major public health advance.
Quote by Erik Kandel, Recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
Dr. Turri strives to be the best audiologist in The Villages, Florida, offering the highest quality care to people throughout Central Florida. This includes providing educational information to all our patients. Please keep reading to learn more about our approach to hearing loss and dementia, which was forged by the award-winning audiologist, Dr. Keith Darrow.
Hearing loss impacts over 48 million people in the U.S. and is listed by the Department of Health and Human Services as the 3rd most common chronic disorder affecting today’s seniors. Unfortunately, for most of us, age-related hearing loss is inevitable; impacting nearly 50% of seniors between the ages of 60-70, almost 2/3rd of people between the age of 70-80, and nearly 80% of individuals over the age of 80.
Age-related hearing loss is characterized by the progressive loss of receptor (hair) cells in the ear. This consequently reduces the quantity, and quality, of neural connections from the ear to the brain. This slow-onset disease can have a significant impact on several key brain areas, including memory, hearing, speech and language portions of cognition. Several key research studies have pointed to the potential links to hearing loss and Dementia. This includes the groundbreaking work from Dr. Lin and his colleagues at Johns Hopkins Medical Center that indicates hearing loss can increase the risk of dementia by 200-500% (see summary data in Figure 1).
Every 3-4 seconds another patient is diagnosed with dementia. Rates of dementia are estimated to triple in the next 30 years. Unlike some other diseases, with dementia, the physical body is estimated to outlive the individual’s mental capabilities by 10 or more years. There is no cure for this catastrophic disease, but there are treatments available, including several ways to decrease your risk of developing dementia.
Recent research has found that hearing loss can increase the risk of developing Dementia by 200-500%. This report, from researchers at Johns Hopkins Medical Center and the National Institute on Aging found that individuals with hearing loss (when compared to participants with normal hearing) are at a significantly higher risk of developing dementia over time. The more hearing loss they had, the higher their likelihood of developing the memory-robbing disease. “A lot of people ignore hearing loss because it’s such a slow and insidious process as we age,” Dr. Frank Lin (of Johns Hopkins Medical Center) says. “Even if people feel as if they are not affected, we’re showing that it may well be a more serious problem.”
Three risk factors associated with hearing loss and dementia include Social Isolation, Cerebral Atrophy, and Cognitive Overload.
- Social Isolation – The Impact of reduced social and physical activity. Withdrawal from social situations is common in individuals with hearing loss. Many studies cite feelings of embarrassment, fear of making mistakes in conversations, and feeling like you are not part of the conversation as the common rationale for individuals with hearing impairment to separate themselves from family, friends, and community. This retreat from social activity has even been found in individuals with a mild degree of hearing loss. In addition, individuals with hearing loss are less likely to engage in physical activity. Both increased social isolation and reduced physical activity are strong risk factors for the development of dementia.
- Cerebral Atrophy (aka Brain Shrinkage) The association of a shrinking brain, resulting from the loss of neurons, with dementia has been long documented. Even people with MCI (Mild Cognitive Impairment) show signs up cerebral atrophy. In recent years, scientific studies using advanced brain imaging techniques (including MRI – Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) have demonstrated that hearing impairment is associated with accelerated brain atrophy in both the overall brain, as well as even more advanced reductions in volume associated with the memory, hearing, speech and language portions of the brain.
- Cognitive Overload (i.e. Working Your Brain Too Hard To Hear) Hearing loss is not normal, and neither is the excess strain that is put on your brain. While hearing loss may be more common as we age, it is critical that hearing loss be treated. With hearing loss, the brain is constantly on ‘overload’ trying to fill in the missing pieces and follow the conversation. Increased cognitive load is considered a risk factor for developing dementia. Cognitive load, as measured by pupillometry, is a measurement of how hard your brain is working to follow a conversation. Recent research has found that individuals who treat their hearing loss do not work as hard to listen (i.e. have a reduced cognitive load) and have as much as a 20% increase in memory recall when following a conversation.
- How Do Neurotechnology™ Hearing Aids Work?
There are different types of NeuroTechnology™ – each custom-designed and programmed to meet your hearing loss, and your hearing needs, but they all ultimately perform the same function: to help you hear more clearly, and more naturally.
We hear with our BRAINS, not with our ears. Today’s NeuroTechnology™ is the only proven hearing loss treatment options with a focus on enhancing brain function by providing enhanced clarity surround-sound with background-noise canceling features.
NeuroTechnology™ can be used to address the full spectrum of hearing difficulties, from people with audiometric ‘normal hearing’ to individuals with severe to profound hearing loss.
What Are The Different Types Of Neurotechnology™ Hearing Aids?
NeuroTechnology™ comes in several ‘shapes and sizes’, including some invisible options for maximum discreteness. The hearing health care provider will review your treatment options based on your specific hearing loss and hearing needs. Regardless of which treatment option is right for you, whether you’re out to dinner with friends, hitting the beach, meeting with clients, or hiking, you’ll be able to hear what matters most with today’s hearing loss technology.
SEVERAL FEATURES AVAILABLE INCLUDE:
Invisible Treatment Options: Once placed in your ear, it’s hassle-free so that you may even forget you’re wearing the device! And that’s the point. Hearing loss shouldn’t hold you back, and neither should your hearing solution. Features in today’s invisible technology options include:
- An invisible and custom-fit device that fits deep inside your ear canal and are personally customized to you for all-day comfort.
- Easily adapt to new sounds with automatic volume control and adaptation to the listening environment.
- Wireless streaming to your smartphone and/or to keep you connected to your TV, music and other media.
- Sound comfort technology designed to provide distortion-free listening comfort for loud sounds while ensuring ultimate.
Mini ‘Receiver In The Ear’ Hearing Aid Options: Groundbreaking NeuroTechnology™ is fast and precise enough to analyze and follow the dynamics of the entire auditory environment, and differentiate between speech and background noise. Advances in miniaturization of technology have led to the breakthrough of new NeuroTechnology™ proven to support brain function, including working memory, selective attention, and processing speed (The Hearing Review: Dr. Desjardin, University of Texas, El Paso). These new devices have 3 features designed specifically to maintain the brain’s innate ability to hear in all different listening situations:
- Clear Hearing In Background Noise: By separating important speech from background noise by as much as 10dB, this new technology provides 30% better speech understanding and clarity in noise.
- Enhanced Clarity: Enhanced Memory Recall. Individuals with hearing loss are known to have reduced memory recall because the brain is deprived of a clear signal. With 20% more capacity to remember, this technology is the only available option proven to increase memory recall.
- Reduced Effort: Many of my patients explain that hearing requires effort as they age and that it can make them tired after a day at work or with their grandchildren. Current available technology is proven to provide a 20% reduction in listening effort in noisy environments.
In addition, some options include Bluetooth and Internet compatible options that enable:
- Hands-free wireless (surround sound) hearing on the phone.
- Low-Battery reminders – devices can remind you by ear, phone, text or email that your batteries (or your spouse’s batteries) are low.
- Wireless compatibility with any TV to enhance the clarity of the signal.
- Allows for control of your Internet-connected devices at home including the thermostat, lights, and even certain cooking appliances (i.e. yes, your hearing devices can automatically turn on your coffee maker each morning!)
See Why Our Patients Call Dr. Turri the Best Audiologist in The Villages
Caring for Your NeuroTechnology™ Hearing Aid?
Take Care of Your Neurotechnology™ and It Will Take Care Of You:
Regular maintenance and care of your Neurotechnology™ is critical to the success of the devices and for success in treating your hearing loss.
- Daily Care: Be sure to use the provided lint-free cloth to wipe down your technology at the end of each day. This regiment will ensure that oils from the skin, cerumen (ear wax), dandruff, etc., will not build on the unit and prevent proper stimulation of the auditory system. You may also find that the provided pick/brush can be helpful at removing cerumen embedded in the domes.
- Weekly Maintenance: Your Neurotechnology™ must be provided an ample supply of power to run properly. Your batteries will be expected to last between 4-7 days, depending on your use, connectivity to devices (i.e. Bluetooth connectivity to your phone, tablet, home TV,), etc. When you hear the audible battery warning tone, be sure to change batteries in both units at the same time. For those patients with rechargeable batteries, be sure to properly place the units in the charging station every evening to obtain a full charge.
- Monthly Care: It is important that both the domes and the wax filters be changed on a monthly basis (it is possible that for some patients this is done on a more regular basis depending on the amount of cerumen build-up). Domes: The dome on your NeuroTechnology™ speaker plays a critical role in the acoustic performance of your units and is specifically calculated into the prescriptive acoustic settings. Wax Baskets: These filters have been specifically designed to prevent cerumen from entering the speaker and causing damage to the units. As cerumen builds in the basket, it can intermittently (or permanently) prevent sound stimulation from the units.
NOTE: In the rare case that your NeuroTechnology™ is malfunctioning and not providing ample stimulation please follow these 2 steps before calling the office: 1) change the batteries, and 2) change the wax basket. These are the cause of 98% of all hearing aid emergency appointments and can help save you time and travel! As always, you are welcome to call the office if you are uncomfortable with either of these and would like help.
How Do I Pay for Hearing Treatment?
Once you are comfortable and you know specifically which audiologist you want to treat you, your spouse, your parent or another family member, the next question typically is, “How much is this going to cost and how am I going to pay for this?”
I have always believed that the patient needs options to help them invest in proper hearing health care. A reputable Audiology practice understands that for some people the upfront investment in hearing healthcare can be prohibitive. Patients must be provided with options.
All Excellence In Audiology offices will offer reputable creditors/banks to help establish a payment plan (some with 0% interest for 1 year, or even a longer-term payment plan with fixed interest terms).
Be sure to ask your provider if they offer the exclusive Excellence In Audiology ‘Hear For Life™’ program that provides individuals the opportunity to pay a one-time down-payment and a small monthly fee thereafter with the advantage of full warranty (loss, damage, and repair coverage for life), complete access to supplies, batteries and service appointments for life, and no-cost automatic upgrades on new versions of Neurotechnology™ for life.
When Is the Best Time to Start Hearing Treatment?
Simple answer: if you are over 50 you should have your hearing evaluated. And if it is determined that you have a hearing loss, early treatment is the key to success with Neurotechnology™.
A More Detailed Answer: I always stress the importance of early diagnosis and treatment of hearing loss to each of my patients.
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, the American Academy of Audiology, and the American Medical Association have all considered the recommendation of including ‘hearing evaluation/screening’ between the age of 50-60 years young. I often use the catchphrase ‘Ears and Rears’ as my way of getting people to remember to have their hearing checked when they turn 50 (and of course, have a colonoscopy too!).
Similar to going to your primary care physician every year, obtaining a baseline hearing test can help to better serve you and your clinician to guide the medical recommendation at current or future appointments. Obtaining a baseline of normal hearing never hurt anyone!
Regardless of age, if you are noticing any of the symptoms of hearing loss, e.g. difficulty hearing in noisy situations, difficulty hearing the TV (compared to others), if your family is suggesting you get a hearing test, or if you have ringing in your ears (defined as Tinnitus).
Unfortunately waiting too long can significantly impact the expectations and outcome of treatment. Sadly every Audiologist I know has a patient they have had to tell they waited too long and the benefits of treatment will be minimal.
As one of the area’s premier audiology practices in The Villages, FL, Al Turri, AuD. also provides 5-star-rated audiology care to patients in Summerfield, Lady Lake, Oxford, Wildwood, Leesburg, Belleview, Fruitland Park, and Weirsdale, FL.