I went to an audiologist yesterday. I’ve had hearing aids several times in the past 25 yrs. Each time they hurt my inner ear. I became so frustrated –I finally gave up. I decided I needed to be exactly who I am…a Deaf woman. Acceptance of being Deaf is not a light matter. People who have mild to moderate hearing loss are still able to function in hearing society. Whenever someone would tell me that they understood what I’m going through, I’d sit back & watch them. Most were able to follow the conversations around them. I knew that they really did not understand. I do not profess to be profoundly Deaf. I truly hope I never understand what the profound Deaf experience, I do have some inkling of the challenges that they face.
What surprised me most about my visit yesterday was how the audiologist reacted to me. When he met me he figured that my hearing loss was not really that bad. My husband said that he was amazed to find out how little I hear. He told him that I really should not be able to function much at all-with the severity of my hearing deficit. He told me some things that I guess have been discovered the in recent years. Some things that I really did not know. If I did know this I would have worn those crummy hearing aids from so long ago with a vengeance. Below is an excerpt from an article which explains recent findings.
A recent study, led by Isabelle Mosnier of Assistance Publique-Hopitaux de Paris in France, offers more hope. Mosnier studied a group of 94 people ages 65 to 85 with profound deafness in at least one ear. Each received a cochlear implant followed by twice-weekly auditory rehabilitation. More than 80 percent of those with the lowest cognitive scores showed significant improvement one year after implantation, according to the study published March 12 in the journal JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery.
- Murali Doraiswamy, M.D., a professor of psychiatry and medicine at Duke University School of Medicine and coauthor of The Alzheimer’s Action Plan, says that although the study had some shortcomings, “the improvement in cognition was huge — about double that seen with any of the current [U.S. Food and Drug Administration] FDA drugs for treating Alzheimer’s.” He adds that the findings about hearing loss affecting cognitive tests probably also apply to other senses such as vision, smell and touch. “Studies have shown that uncorrected vision problems raise the risk for dementia,” he says.
While the link between hearing loss and milder cognitive problems has been questioned by some, it is becoming increasingly accepted. “Every doctor knows that hearing loss can result in cognitive problems, but they still don’t focus on it as a priority when they evaluate someone with suspected dementia — which is a big missed opportunity,” Doraiswamy says. “The benefits of correcting hearing loss on cognition are twice as large as the benefits from any cognitive-enhancing drugs now on the market. It should be the first thing we focus on.”