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Old 10-13-2011, 03:06 PM   #1
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Unhappy Dementia and Hearing loss

Hi guys, just dropping in to say hi and to voice a concern. Mom is doing as well as can be expected but she doesn't answer her phone much lately. This is hard because we are hundred's of miles away. I will be making a trip very soon to see her in the NH.

Mom complains she can't hear very well even with her hearing Aids. She is tested regularly and she does have severe sensorineural hearing loss.
The other day I walked past a mall seminar that had to do with dementia and Hearing loss. I couldn't make it to the next session but it was presented by the Alzheimer's Society along with an Audiologist. When I got home I looked it up on line and indeed there seems to be some correlation between hearing loss and dementia. Some say hearing loss could be an indicator of dementia. This scares me because I also have hearing loss which has been diagnosed moderate to severe sensorinueral loss just like my mother's. Lately I forget more but I've been putting it down to the stress I've been feeling in the last year? I love my mom but do not want to end up like her.

Last edited by dorri; 10-13-2011 at 03:08 PM.

 
Old 10-13-2011, 04:03 PM   #2
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Re: Dementia and Hearing loss

Dorri,

I am so sorry that your Mom has hearing problems. I learned that if one has hearing loss and does not wear hearing aids, it would shrink the part of the auditory area in the brain and thus reduce the volume. However if you use hearing aids and use the hearing, it will help sustain it. So far not everyone gets dementia based only on hearing loss without hearing aids.
Hearing loss itself may affect the brain but there are many factors that cause dementia.
If she has not been diagnosed with dementia, ask the doctor to do memory test for her to find out. There are tools to diagnose it.
Sometimes she may have ear wax so ask them to remove the ear wax.

My FIL who has stage 7 Alzheimer's has good hearing (he is 90) and yet the home said he needs to be in quieter place. In general he hears very well but at times the ear wax blocks his hearing so the home clears his ears often with some solution at bedtime.
Try ear wax removal first.
The other issue is people with dementia may end up with auditory problem which is about language comprehension, not about hearing loss. My FIL has faulty logic now so he may not hear the same thing that we say to him.

Don't assume too much. There is a way to diagnose dementia first.

Good luck,
Nina

Last edited by ninamarc; 10-13-2011 at 04:07 PM.

 
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Old 10-13-2011, 04:24 PM   #3
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Re: Dementia and Hearing loss

Hi thanks for the reply. I use to be a regular on this board because my mom does have dementia. She has been through every test in the book and has been assessed and reassessed. She is now in a Nursing Home because she is unable to care for herself and as the family we found out we weren't able to provide her with the care she needed. It was too much, as mom needed care day and night. She is about the same as a year ago, perhaps she has worsened a little maybe not. She goes through many spells where she is a tad better and then gets worse. Now she won't pick up her phone so I will be making a long trip to see her. When she does pick up it is hard to get her attention for long. That part of her seems to have gone. She has also been diagnosed with a component of Alzheimers disease as well.

Last edited by dorri; 10-13-2011 at 04:28 PM.

 
Old 10-13-2011, 10:52 PM   #4
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Re: Dementia and Hearing loss

Dorri... I have not heard anything about hearing loss being a symptom of dementia. I know some dementia patients who have very acute hearing and some like my aunt that have major hearing loss but no cognitive loss. I don't think you need to be fearful because you have a hearing loss. If so my sister is sunk before she begins. She has been wearing hearing aids most of her life!

In a few very rare cases of sensorineural hearing loss, it can be caused by the processing part of the brain. But the vast majority of the cases are caused by damaged hair cells. If it should by some chance be caused by the processing part of the brain I could see how that might tie in with other processing abnormalities. But that is so very rare.... and I would guess not to be worried about

The actually hearing is not always the problem for most dementia patients. Once you hear something you have to cognitively process what you hear and know how to react to it. I do know that Mom's auditory perception (the ability to process what she heard) was severely impaired early in her disease. She had hearing aids but refused to wear them because what she heard, she didn't understand. She also had difficulty understanding (hearing) what was said on the phone. To her if she couldn't understand it, she couldn't hear it.

There is also the component of forgetting how to use electronic equipment, including the phone. By mid stages Mom was pushing buttons on the remote phone to control the TV and trying to answer the phone by pushing buttons on the TV remote. When Mom was in AL we would call and tell the care givers Mom didn't answer the phone. They would go check and she was holding the TV remote, pushing buttons trying to call us back.

It is good to hear from you I am glad your Mom is somewhere that she can get the 24/7/365 help that she needs. I do hope your trip to see her goes well! Hope to hear from you more often

Love, deb

 
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Old 10-13-2011, 11:08 PM   #5
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Re: Dementia and Hearing loss

Thanks Deb. Even though I don't have much time to come on here (especially lately) I really do think of you all often.
Thanks for the encouragement and hope you are right. I've been forgetting a lot lately along with the hearing loss and figure, oh this is it. Then I keep reminding myself that it's the stress that is doing it...eg..forgot the wash in the washer for 2 days, my husband had to remind me. I forgot to let the dog in the other night. Not to mention that I had the frying pan smoking pretty bad because I forgot I had it on the stove. Well the dog did come in and the frying pan didn't burn too bad, and the wash had a second wash without a lingering scent. Gee, hope it doesn't get worse.

Fill me in briefly with your parents. I would like to know how they are? How are you holding up?

 
Old 10-14-2011, 10:39 AM   #6
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Re: Dementia and Hearing loss

Dorri... you are suffering from stress!! If you forget the wash in the washer, go back and know you have forgotten it and what to do with it.... you are OK!! If you forget what the washer is for then you are in trouble You knew what to do when the pan overheated so you are ok. You forgot to let the dog in but you didn't forget it was your dog... so all is well. There is a difference between stress induced absentmindedness and true dementia forgetfulness.

I lost Dad March 2010 from a combination of the Vascular Dementia and Cardiovascular complication. He was just short of his 90th birthday, had lived a good full life, and was ready to go. I miss him but grateful that I had so many wonderful years with him. Mom is in the later stages of Alzheimer's. She is still ambulatory but has lost her ability to communicate. She is chemically content but not sedated. For now she is the best she can be in the stage of the disease she is in. I am having difficulties with the new administration at her facility but I'm working on it.

It is so good to hear from you and know your Mom is well cared for. Stay in touch

Love, deb

 
Old 10-14-2011, 02:21 PM   #7
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Re: Dementia and Hearing loss

Deb, my belated heartfelt condolences in the loss of your dad. It doesn't matter if they are young or old, he was still your dad and even though you knew he was ill, it must be hard having lost him. Was your mom still aware enough at the time to know that he passed? You say she lost her ability to communicate, do you mean all together?

I haven't been able to get through to my mom, she has not made contact with me for over a month and half, yet my sister is telling me that she is happy, content, dressing up and has even met a male companion at the Nursing Home. On Cdn Thanksgiving Day my sister phoned and put mom on the phone. She asked how I was, and then said she hasn't picked up the phone because she's been very sick the whole time, then she said she can't hear me and told me that she has to let me go. The call was very short but it was nice hearing her voice. I hope when I go and visit that I will be able to communicate with her better in person. Up til July she was phoning me almost daily or I her (even if the calls were the same repetitive ones about something hurting or her falling) she did have relapses where I wouldn't hear from her for a few days, even a week, maybe a tad longer, but nothing like it has become now. In July a family friend passed away and we were going to bring her in for the funeral. At the last minute she didn't want to come. The phone calls also stopped at this time, and she wouldn't pick up mine. Maybe the loss was too painful for her? It's the unpredictability that is hard to cope with as well as accepting mom the way she has become. I should know better, this has been going on for the last 3 years. Mom isn't who she use to be. Now I'm rambling, so you take care and I will try to get on here at least once in a while.

Thanks for encouraging me about the "forgetfulness" Well, I can recognize some of it as stress, which is good.

Deb, you take care of yourself. I know how committed and faithful you've been not only to your parents but also to this board. I appreciate your advice and encouragement, and it's always nice to hear from you.

Last edited by dorri; 10-14-2011 at 02:27 PM.

 
Old 10-14-2011, 07:57 PM   #8
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Re: Dementia and Hearing loss

Yes, I do miss my Dad but this is the way it is.... and how it should be. He would want me to be happy and live the rest of my life as he did his.

Mom's ability to process auditory input (what she hears) was damaged early in her disease. She understands very little of what she hears. Her visual processing (understanding what she sees) is better than her auditory processing. In order to get her to "understand" I have to show her and not tell her. This is common with Alzheimer's and why the phone thing becomes hard. It is all auditory processing with no visual to go with it. She began losing her words several years ago. She would start to say something and not be able to find the right words, frequently using the wrong word. She would point to a banana and say... "I want a bucket". Nouns seemed to be the first words to go. Most statements became filled with pronouns and words such as "that thing", "over there", or such. Most statements were related to visual input. Even in trying to make a statement about something else, what she would see would interfere. She would start by saying something like "I want..." and then finish with the word "fence". Then I noticed she was looking at the fence while trying to talk. It has just gotten progressively worse for the last 2.5 years. Now most of her sentences are a jumble of words and even sounds that make little sense. Occasionally... she will come out with a complete three word thought and it's a celebration! But they are never related to conversation and why I say she has lost the ability to communicate... and I should say communicate verbally.

What you described in your mom's communication with you sounds typical. Somebody else calls and puts her on the phone. She knows to say "Hello, how are you?" from many years of using the phone. But what you say back does not process in her brain. Then she has to come up with a reason why she has not talked to you so she comes up with a doozie. To escape the confusion she says she can't hear when in fact she can not process what she is hearing. This doesn't come on suddenly but sporadically over time. It might happen once this week and then she is fine. Next week it might happen three times. Then she will have a good week and it will not happen at all. Then she will have a down time and will not be able to process the phone or auditory input for a couple of weeks. It's up and down but always more down this week than it was last week. We hear from them mostly in the up times so we don't see the decline until she can't find an up time to talk to you and we think it just all of a sudden went away. That is one of the difficulties of being so far away

Mom was sleeping in the same room with Dad the morning he passed away. I had talked to the care staff previously. They checked Dad and left he as he was. They got Mom up and ready for the day. She thought Dad was sleeping. We protected her from the visual.... and we did not take her to the services since they were 4 hours away and involved a three day stay. It has been 19 months and I do not believe she has an awareness that he is deceased. Occasionally she will say "Dad with Deb" or Dad at work". Occasionally she will mumble something about another male resident that looks a little like Dad. Occasionally she will get up and wander at night. I think perhaps at night she is looking for Dad but she's not in distress. Since then there have been several deaths and I have not told her about any of them... if she even understood in the moment she would not remember. A few years back when Dad's sister passed away my sister took them to the funeral and I remember Mom obsessing about the services and the pamphlet for weeks. That was the last time

No Mom is not who she used to be but she is still a valid person. Please don't grieve over what has been lost. When you go see her enjoy who she is not and the memories you can create with her now. I qualified my statement about not being able to communicate earlier because we do communicate... just not verbally. I walk with her, watch her eyes, respond to her emotions when I don't understand the words, and we laugh, smile, and just enjoy the moment. I tell her good things and do not expect a response. I show her pictures, flowers, lizards (which she hates), and birds. I have been helping her eat and I have to chuckle when she flips a piece of okra off the fork. She doesn't like okra. Her face says it all. So go in with no expectations. Don't expect her to be the "Mom" you have always known. Be in tune with the non verbal and that will carry you thought. I do hope it is a good visit for you... and for your Mom

I am going to take care of myself by getting in bed earlier tonight

Love, deb

 
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Old 10-14-2011, 08:25 PM   #9
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Re: Dementia and Hearing loss

Deb, thanks for sharing. It brought tears to my eyes. Have a good sleep, you deserve it. I will say a prayer for your mom and you as well.

hugs

dorri

 
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