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Helping older adults manage Alzheimer’s and hearing loss

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A headshot of Jo-Ann Bentley

Helping older adults manage Alzheimer’s and hearing loss
By Jo Ann Bentley
Program Director, Communication Devices and Accessibility Consulting

January is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month and this provides us with a great opportunity to highlight the link between losing your hearing and access to language with dementia. 

Reduced language comprehension is a symptom of late onset Alzheimer’s, as is depression, anxiety and disorientation. Add isolation to that if the person also has hearing loss, they may no longer have access to spoken language and those around them. Recent studies also show this link between hearing loss, lack of access to language, leading to social isolation and cognitive difficulties. There are many communication strategies that can help people cope with the symptoms associated with dementia and hearing loss.

For mild cognitive impairment, there are devices that can aid with memory by using images or pictures rather than words. Other devices are designed to make it easier to hear and also offer visual cues to assist the user. For example, a phone with picture dialing may help a person with dementia stay connected by providing easy-to-use picture dialing buttons, pre-set volume control and a feature that allows them to set the volume for their hearing loss.

As an accessibility consultant at the Canadian Hearing Society, my role is to help individuals and businesses remove communication barriers and enable people to have full access to their world. Accessibility means creating experiences where all people can enjoy barrier-free communication and full and active participation at home, at work and in their daily lives.

For more information on effective technology services and solutions for hearing loss and Alzheimer’s, visit http://www.chs.ca/alzheimers-disease-and-hearing-loss.

 

 

 

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