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Alzheimer’s Disease (AD)

Alzheimer’s Disease (AD)

Ears and Brain

A recent Morning Edition on NPR highlighted the role of hearing aids in slowing the rate of cognitive decline in older adults. The feature highlighted the work of Maharani et al (2018) that examined the relationship. Drawing data from the Health and Retirement Study (HSR), Maharani and colleagues showed that cognitive function based on episodic memory (word recall) was associated with hearing aid use and that decline in episodic memory was mitigated by reported use of hearing aids. The authors reported the rate of decline was reduced by 75 percent.

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Predicting When Dementia Starts

Murman (2015) reviews cognitive changes associated with normal aging.  He states that “there is emerging evidence that healthy lifestyles may decrease the rate of cognitive decline….” Murman notes that in 1910 the average lifespan for a male was 48 years and for female it was 52. In 2010, the lifespan averages are 76 years for men and 81 years for women. Murman divides cognitive ability into multiple domains—attention, memory, executive cognitive function, language and visuo-spatial ability.

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Dementia, Mild Cognitive Impairment, and Alzheimer’s Disease

Pichora-Fuller reports that Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is progressive, degenerative, and is the most common form of dementia. She reports for those older than age 70 diagnosed with AD, AD is usually fatal within 10 years. Pichora-Fuller notes that dementia is more common in people with hearing loss, than in those with normal hearing. Indeed, the risk of developing dementia increases dramatically (two to five times greater) for those with hearing loss.

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