Hearing loss is the world’s fourth-leading cause of years lived with disability. The condition may worsen an array of mental, physical, and social complications. As over 90% of hearing loss is age-related, its burden is notably growing amid aging populations.
Hearing ability is integrally tied with communication, and hearing loss leads to communication barriers. This in turn increases stress and restricts the ability to venture outdoors. It may also be tied with cognitive decline and dementia.
A team of Japanese researchers centered at the University of Tsukuba sought to shed further light on the relation of hearing loss and other illnesses among older people. They examined three key areas and found hearing loss had a clear link with all three, especially memory loss. The researchers reported their findings in the journal, Geriatrics & Gerontology International.
The team took advantage of the large-scale 2016 Comprehensive Survey of Living Conditions of Japan, a nationwide, population-based cross-sectional questionnaire of more than 220,000 households. From this, they targeted 137,723 survey respondents aged 65 or older and without dementia. The survey’s self-reported responses on conditions including hearing loss allowed valuable comparisons to be made.
“Japan is the world’s most rapidly aging country, and this is a large and compelling data set of its citizens,” lead author Masao Iwagami says. “It was a solid foundation for examining correlations between hearing loss and three key problems: outdoor activity limitations, psychological distress, and memory loss.”
Researchers found that using a computer, playing games, and participating in social activities may reduce the risk of mild cognitive impairment.
Our brains go through changes as we get older, and some people may experience issues with memory, thinking, or judgment.
Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is the stage between age-related cognitive decline and dementia — however, MCI does not significantly affect daily life and activities.
People with MCI tend to forget things, lose their train of thought or the thread of conversations, and feel overwhelmed by making decisions. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 16 million people in the United States are living with cognitive impairment.
MCI may increase the risk of dementia, but not everyone with MCI goes on to develop the condition. To date, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have not approved any treatments specifically for MCI.
Lifestyle choices such as physical exercise and intellectual stimulation have positive effects on the brain. In recent years, researchers have been conducting more studies to find treatments that may prevent cognitive decline.
Hand in hand, like a couple of young lovers, 86-year-old Ieta Derksen and her husband, 92-year-old Frank Derksen, entered the Calgary Stampede gates for the 62nd time this week.
The couple has only missed one Stampede during their 63 years of marriage. They both emigrated from Holland, although separately at different times during the 1950s, and wed after only a few months together.
A constant in their Canadian lives is the familiar sounds of the midway, the sweet flavour of mini donuts and the cheerful atmosphere they look forward to every year at the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.
A year ago, The Vancouver Sun and Province wrote a comprehensive series on seniors’ care in B.C. Now we tell you which services improved, and which are worse off.
Helen Forewell wanted to make her husband’s final years as pleasant as possible after he was diagnosed with dementia, but she struggled to find him appropriate and timely help in B.C.’s health care system.
“I was overwhelmed with the challenges of working with a system that ultimately failed us. To say that it is presently a broken system is an understatement,” Forewell, 74, wrote in a detailed letter of complaint to B.C.’s seniors advocate.
The retired school teacher told Postmedia she fought hard to get the services she thought her husband Vince required, and is saddened she was unable to get them.
Forewell said her local health authority was unable to offer her a consistent case manger to help her navigate the complicated seniors’ care system; she was unable to get home support at the time she needed it or with consistent staff to reduce her husband’s agitation over unknown people; she could not find a suitable daycare program so she could get some respite; and her husband was denied admission to a residential care facility, even though two family doctors determined she could no longer keep him at home.
The Burnaby resident is speaking out in the hope of inspiring change in a system that the NDP government promised to improve with an injection of $548 million in additional funding between 2018 and 2021.
“What are the tangible action plans now? Because if there is money, where is it going to be spent?” asked Forewell. “Are they going to put money into case managers? Into training?”
Last year, Postmedia published a seven-part series examining B.C.’s complicated and expensive seniors care system. It’s a system that will become even more overburdened as the population aged 65 and older is projected to grow from 950,000 this year to 1.6 million by 2040, when one out of every four British Columbians will be a senior.
So, what has changed in the year since we analyzed this important public service?
Health Minister Adrian Dix argues his government has had “a pretty good first year,” providing a long list of accomplishments.
One of those was a major change he announced this week that means seniors wanting to go to a nursing home will no longer be forced to take the first bed available or fall to the bottom of the waiting list if they refuse it, a restrictive policy that has been in place for 17 years. Instead, as of July 15, they will be allowed to choose from their three preferred care homes and will have three days to make a decision when a bed becomes available.
“There are real challenges in the system and I’m very proud of the progress we’ve made in the first year,” Dix said. “But none of this is perfect because it is taking place in the context of an increasing number of seniors.”