What is the relationship between hearing loss & dementia?

Untreated hearing loss has been proven to increase your risk for dementia by 200% (mild loss)-500% (severe loss) (Dr. Frank Lin, Johns Hopkins). Both dementia and hearing loss are progressive, degenerative diseases. Hearing loss causes the brain to not get the exercise it needs to stay healthy and the brain will atrophy at an increased rate. Someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer's every 3-4 seconds and estimates are for it to triple in the next 30 years. It is a very debilitating, costly disease. Wearing hearing devices to stimulate the brain is a small price to pay to delay the onset of dementia.

As you can see from the graphic below, hearing loss affects seniors at a greater rate than young people. This is not to say that hearing loss is an age-related disease, rather sensori-neural hearing loss is generally due to a lifetime of exposure to noises that have worn down the hair cells in your ear used to conduct sound to the brain. Altogether, 48 million people are affected by hearing loss in the United States.

There are three risk factor associated with hearing loss and dementia.

  • Social Isolation – People with hearing loss tend to isolate themselves because it becomes increasingly difficult to communicate. They may feel embarrassed, be afraid of making social mistakes or feel lonely, even in the presence of people. Increasingly, social activities are exchanged for quiet time at home. But the brain needs constant social stimulation, hence the reason this becomes a risk factor.
  • Cerebral Atrophy – Our brains shrink as we age, but studies have shown that people with hearing loss experience accelerated brain atrophy which results in less brain volume for housing memory, hearing, speech and language.
  • Cognitive Overload – Hearing loss causes you to have to concentrate extra hard to understand speech and recall speech. It can be exhausting! But studies have now shown that this extra strain causes you to access a part of the brain reserved for other tasks, causing brain overload. It is like driving a car on the freeway at 60 miles per hour in first gear. Eventually the car is going to break down. …And eventually your brain breaks down, causing dementia. The good news is that people who properly treat their hearing loss have a demonstrated 20% increase in memory recall, 20% reduction in listening effort in noisy environments, and 30% improvement in understanding speech in noisy environments. NeuroTechnology™performs best at this task.

What is NeuroTechnology™?

Traditional hearing aids increase the volume for the wearer and not too distant technology had microphones frontally focused toward where someone would generally be speaking to you while limiting background noise. While these technologies were advanced for their time, we now have NeuroTechnology™ that is a much more advanced way of processing the sounds. It scans your environment 100 times per second and 360 degrees around you and has filters that know the difference between background noise and voices enabling you to hear in a much more natural way. You can hear the truck approaching behind you while concentrating on a speaker that may be standing next to you. Hear background noise in a restaurant while still having an enriching conversation with friends at the table. That background noise could be entertainment that you definitely wouldn’t want to miss.

Because this technology exercises your brain in a much more natural manner, it is reaching the brain neurons to a much larger degree by increasing the auditory input to the brain. Speech is much clearer and more natural.

Today’s NeuroTechnology™ use a three-step approach to improved speech understanding:

  • Disturbing noise is brought to a level that is comfortable presenting you with clear speech for the brain to process.
  • High frequencies are lowered to mid-frequency ensuring inaudible sounds become audible again.
  • The adaptive technology delivers speech details that you need, not eliminating them.

How does Neurotechnolgy™ work?

There are different types of NeuroTechnology™ – each designed and custom-programmed by our team to ensure you hear the sounds you need to hear, keeping your favorite activities in mind. We hear with our BRAINS, not our ears. This technology ensures the brain is getting the ultimate in exercise, keeping your brain functioning the way it was meant to function.

Whether your loss is mild, severe, or anywhere in between,NeuroTechnology™can deliver enhanced clarity surround-sound in the most natural way. We have found patients that occasionally test as “normal” on a traditional audiogram, but still have difficulty understanding speech, and when fitted with this technology perform much better in their daily lives. That is because the “normal line” of an audiogram may not be normal for them and a little help from hearing technology can make all the difference in their ability to enjoy the world around them.

What Are The Different Types Of NeuroTechnology™?

NeuroTechnology™ comes in different performance levels to suit the loss of the patient as well as a paradigm of colors and features including BlueTooth connectivity (for attaching to your smartphone, music devices, TV and Smart Home devices), wind noise management, soft speech booster and tinnitus support. The styles can be match to your hair color if you desire making them virtually invisible.

How do I care for my NeuroTechnology™?

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.

  1. Daily Care: To ensure oils from your skin and wax from your ears (cerumen) do not build up on your devices, wipe them down daily with the provided lint-free cloth. The provided pick/brush can help you remove embedded cerumen in the domes.
  2. Weekly Maintenance: Batteries in your NeuroTechnology™ can last 4-7 days, depending on your use, connectivity to devices (i.e. Bluetooth connectivity to your phone, tablet, home TV,) etc. Your devices will deliver an audible battery warning tone when the batteries need to be changed. 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.
  3. Monthly Care: The domes and wax filters on your device need to be changed out monthly (for some patients, more often). The domes play a crucial role in the acoustic delivery of the devices, so must be kept clean. If cerumen builds in the baskets, it can intermittently or permanently prevent sound stimulation from the units.
NOTE: In the rare case your NeuroTechnology™ should malfunction, please follow these two steps before contacting our office, as it is the cause of most hearing aid emergency calls. These two steps could help you avoid frustration and a trip to our office.

  1. Change the batteries
  2. Change the wax basket

Should these steps not correct the malfunction, do not hesitate to give us a call for support.

Do you have any financial options to assist me paying for NeuroTechnology™?

The first thing we will do, just as when you go to any reputable medical clinic, is run a verification of benefits, should you have health insurance. From there, we will determine the net cost of the devices for you. Should you require financial assistance beyond any insurance, we will provide you with an application for CareCredit which will enable you to keep monthly payments to an amount you can afford.

When you are weighing out the financial costs versus the medical benefits, remember that this is an investment in your health that may be the difference between remaining healthy or developing other health issues.

Since 1987, CareCredit has been helping individuals cover the costs of healthcare. Originally a credit card covering dental care, today more than 200,000 healthcare providers and health-related retailers partner with CareCredit to help consumers finance health-related costs. We are pleased to be part of CareCredit’s network. CareCredit can be used to cover any costs at Treasure Valley Hearing & Balance. You can apply for CareCredit below, or schedule an appointment at a convenient Treasure Valley Hearing & Balance clinic where we will be happy to assist you.

At what age should I have my hearing tested?

We recommend every adult have a screening test as part of your overall wellness plan. Having a baseline assessment can play a vital role in knowing how your hearing is performing today compared to any future tests you may get. Remember, even 1 in 6 teens have hearing loss. But most definitely, if you are age 50 or over, it is a good idea to get your hearing tested because your hearing does typically decline as you age. NeuroTechnology™ will play a key role in keeping you functioning well into old age, if indeed it is found that your brain is not being properly stimulated because of hearing loss.

Take our online tests to help determine if you are experiencing any voids in your hearing today.

Delaying treatment for hearing loss too long may ultimately impact our ability to bring you back to a normal level of hearing. Don’t let your treatment benefits be minimal. Make an appointment for a complimentary consultation today

What is involved in a hearing consultation?

A hearing consultation is an absolutely relaxed, pain-free visit with one of our hearing professionals to determine if you are experiencing any issues hearing activity around you. It often takes less time than getting your eyes checked and is less invasive than a visit to the dentist. Based on this consultation, we may decide to do a baseline test for you where we can determine your degree of hearing loss, which type it is and identify areas of weakness and options for treatment.

If needed, we can provide you a copy of your audiogram.

I would like to converse directly with Dr. Whitcomb.

To contact Dr. Whitcomb directly, you can email him at DrWhitcomb@treasurevalleyhearing.com. He works Monday through Thursday. Expect him to reply within 2 working days of sending him an email.

To contact Dr. Theobald directly, you can email him at rogt@treasurevalleyhearing.com. He works Monday through Thursday. Expect him to reply within 2 working days of sending him an email.