Friday 23 August 2013

Hearing and Cognition

Student audiologist at the University of Manchester, Kelly Henderson, has kindly written about the importance of accessing support with hearing loss and how to access a hearing test at Trafford's audiology department. If you have any questions about the article, please contact dementia.adviser@ageuktrafford.

Have you had your hearing tested?  Why is it important?
As we get older our hearing deteriorates and we begin to notice a change in our ability to hear.  An age related hearing loss is the most common form of hearing loss in adults and mostly starts to affect people in their 60’s.  It progresses gradually over subsequent years, leading to our brains slowly adjusting to ‘not hearing’ sounds especially soft sounds which are important in understanding speech.  Because of this gradual decline we may not notice our inability to hear and at first think other people are mumbling or not speaking clearly.  On most occasions it is generally family and friends who notice hearing problems before an individual notices it themselves.  Typical signs of struggling with hearing are:
·         Missing bits of conversation especially when there is background noise
·         Asking people to repeat what they are saying
·         Having the television or radio on louder than usual   

When a person has a hearing loss sometimes social occasions can be stressful as it is difficult hearing conversations.  This may lead to withdrawal from social gatherings as the sheer thought of trying to hear in these situations becomes tiring.  Therefore a hearing loss that is left untreated (without hearing aids) starts to affect our quality of life.  However, not only does a hearing loss affect our quality of life but it can also affect our cognitive functioning, that is our brain’s ability to process information such as hearing.

For anyone who has been diagnosed with a memory loss, their cognitive functioning is already at risk due to chemical and structural changes in the brain, so it is important to try and maintain as much cognitive functioning as possible.  There is evidence to show that a hearing loss is also associated with a decline in cognitive functioning and it has also been reported that the severity of hearing loss and the degree and rate of increase in cognitive functioning are related.  As a result of this evidence there is lots of research that supports the need for a hearing assessment for people with dementia.  Hearing aids are vital in not only enabling us to hear better but also to maintain cognitive functioning to help keep our brains stimulated and active.  If hearing aids make it possible for people to hear and respond to sounds, then that will boost their quality of life and consequently enhance their cognitive functioning.  So identifying a hearing loss sooner rather than later in people with dementia and if needed, fitting hearing aids, may reduce the risk of developing further cognitive decline and maintain their quality of life for longer. Early intervention of diagnosing a hearing loss is the key to helping minimise the impact of dementia and anything we can do to boost the brain’s cognitive functioning will be beneficial in terms of overall quality of life.

Here’s a thought.  A person with a memory loss may still respond to music and music stimulates the auditory and memory parts of the brain.  So if hearing aids make this happen then we are stimulating and boosting their cognitive functioning helping the person to stay active and alert and happy!    

So if you or any one you know has been diagnosed with a memory loss then have a think about getting your hearing tested.
 Good hearing is vital as it stimulates parts of the brain and keeps it active!

How to get your hearing tested
Visit your GP and ask to be referred for a hearing test
Here at Trafford General Hospital we will:
·         Examine your ears and make sure they are healthy
·         Perform a full hearing test which will require you to wear headphones and to press a button when you hear a sound
·         You will be asked some questions about your hearing and requested to fill in a short medical questionnaire
·         After discussing your test results with you, your audiologist will advise whether or not hearing aids will help
·         The hearing aids here at Trafford General  are free NHS hearing aids which have the latest up to date technology!
·         You are welcome to bring a friend or member of the family with you to all appointments
·         We also offer a home visit service for people who cannot make it to the hospital 
Boxtel van MPJ et al. (2000) ‘Mild hearing impairment can reduce verbal memory performance in a healthy adult population’. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology 22 (1): 147-154.
Gates GA et al. (2002) ‘Central auditory dysfunction may precede the onset of clinical dementia in people with probable Alzheimer’s disease’. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society 50 (3): 482-488.
Lindenberger U and Ghisletta P (2009) ‘Cognitive and sensory declines in old age: gauging the evidence for a common cause’. Psychology and Aging 24 (1): 1-16.
Lin FR (2011) ‘Hearing loss and cognition among older adults in the United States’. The Journals of Gerontology 66 (10): 1131-6.
Lin FR et al. (2013) ‘Hearing loss and cognitive decline in older adults’. Internal Medicine 173 (4): 293-299.
Lin FR et al. (2013) ‘Hearing loss and cognitive decline in older adults’. Internal Medicine 173 (4): 293-299.
Albers K.  Clinical and Health Affairs.  Hearing Loss and Dementia:  New Insights.  Minnesota Medicine.

Friday 14 June 2013

Summer Events in Trafford

Upcoming events and groups:
June 17th: Hale Dementia Hub
Hale Library, Leigh Road, Hale. 1.30 – 3.30pm. Anyone with memory loss or dementia welcome and family supporters. Color Purple Therapies joining us to talk about relaxation and stress management.
June 21st: Best Foot Forward, Falls Awareness event
Our lady of the Rosary Church, Davyhulme Road, Urmston. 10.30am – 4.30 (drop in). Information on healthy feet, bone health, Walking Stick MOT, medication review plus more. Contact Karen Duffy to book a place 0161 746 9752.
July 2nd: Urmston Dementia Hub
Urmston Conservative Club, Crofts Bank Road, Urmston. 1.30 – 3.30 pm. Anyone with memory loss or dementia welcome and family supporters. Trafford Leisure Trust joining us to talk about leisure services for over 50’s.
 July 5th: Brooklands Primary school concert
Brooklands School, Woodbourne Road, Sale 1.30. The school choir will be showing their musical skills, singing songs for us – in readiness for their end of year talent show! Please help us show our appreciation for the school who are very supportive of Age UK Trafford.
July 15th: Hale Dementia Hub
Hale Library, Leigh road, Hale, 1.30-3.30pm. Anyone with memory loss or dementia welcome and family supporters. Trafford Leisure Trust will be joining us to talk about leisure services for the over 50’s in Trafford.
July 26th: Carers Group meeting at Sale Water Park
Anyone who supports a family member with dementia is welcome to meet us at Sale Water Park from 1pm for a beverage and mutual support.
July 29th: Outing to Salford Quays         
Whatever the weather, meet us at the Quays at 1.00pm (meeting point to be arranged) for a stroll round the quays and media city, or should it be inclement, we can look around the Lowry. All with memory loss / dementia and family supporters welcome.
August 6th: Urmston Dementia Hub
Urmston Conservative Club, Crofts Bank Road, Urmston. 1.30 – 3.30 pm. Anyone with memory loss or dementia and family supporters welcome. No speaker this month, but relaxation, activities and information sharing.
August 13th: General Hub Outing to Sale Water Park
Meet at the car park around 1pm for a gentle stroll round the water, or a sit down and a beverage in the cafe. All who have memory loss or dementia and family supporters welcome.
August 19th: Hale Dementia Hub
Hale Library, Leigh Road, Hale, 1.30 – 3.30 pm. Anyone with memory loss or dementia and family supporters welcome. No speaker this month, but relaxation, activities and information sharing.
If you have any questions or would like to let us know you’re coming to any of the above events, please contact Lise or Joanna on 0161 746 3944. We are available to provide support and advice on dementia, so please don’t hesitate to call. If no-one is in to take your call, please leave a message and we will return your call as soon as possible.
If you prefer to email, drop us a line at

Wednesday 29 May 2013

My Nan, Peggy

My Nan, Peggy Matthews, came from a family in service. My very first memory is of her taking me to hospital to see my new born cousin, and I have many memories of drinking green pop on her doorstep on a hot summers day, eating freshly cut crinkly chips and egg, a 10p bag of sweets on a Sunday morning. We’d wait at the bus stop to go into town – “one and two halves please” – 50p in all – and while eating chips and curry sauce in Busby’s chip shop I’d look at the poster of the knickerbocker glory on the wall, wondering how old you had to be before you were allowed one. She’d bring raspberry pie for lunch on a Sunday, called bread rolls ‘cobs’ and took us around the flower gardens in Shrewsbury, umbrella at the ready. She was a witch on Halloween, cackling as she rode high above the town, a jazz singer in the clubs, a nurse, and she slept for a whole week in a bunker during the war. One day during the war, she even did the washing on the wrong day because they got so mixed up with the time. She had three sons, an adopted daughter, and proudly told everyone she met about her ten grandchildren. She hummed tunes called inky pinky parley vous, chattanooga choochoo, and many others that ended in dum di dum, and felt sorry for Freddie Mercury when he died.
As I moved through my early teens things started to change – I don’t recall the speed of decline, but I remember telling my friend on the way home that she was in a second childhood. Phoning our house fifty times a day, shouting at mum, who asked her to bring seven pairs of knickers to wash on a Sunday, and who was promptly given seven unworn pairs. Dr Hughes told Dad that Peggy knew John Major was the Prime Minister, so she must be OK and there was nothing he could do. My Mum worried that her relatives in Derby would think they weren’t doing anything for her. But there were falls, fall-outs, upsets and lots of worry. She still came on a Sunday, but the pies stopped coming with her. The words dementia or Alzheimer’s were never mentioned, nothing was forthcoming in the way of support or information. Eventually, one day when we came back from Wales, Dad found her on the floor of her bungalow. She hadn’t fallen, the ambulance man said, but had lain down on the floor, was dehydrated and severely confused. In hospital we showed her pictures of a lovely hotel – she could still read though, saw the words “residential home” and gave a cry of anguish.
We took her on outings to Lake Vyrnwy and around the countryside. Like all the other residents, she was usually sitting in a chair in the lounge, staring into the abyss, talking to no-one and no-one talking to her. I feel certain she was given medication to keep her quiet. In the corner a lady sat smoking – 100 cigarettes a day, she was an Oxford graduate who eventually was the engineer of her own fatal fire. At least she didn’t get lung cancer, we said. I remember seeing the smoke marks on the wall where she used to sit, before they had a chance to clean it up.
Peggy seemed to fade away – one last birthday gathering with 7 of the grandchildren and a cake, one last winter, and the phone call came after my Dad had left to come home, having sat with her for two days, a few months short of her 80th birthday. Her distinctive smell was apparent to me for a good fortnight around the chair where she used to sit on a Sunday afternoon.
That was seventeen years ago. I often wonder now whether, with access to medication, day support, advice, guidance and support for my parents as carers, she would have made it to eighty. I’m sure it would have been a happier journey for everyone, and more dignified. Let’s be thankful for progress, and keep fighting to improve awareness, care, treatment and quality of life for those affected by dementia.

Tuesday 23 October 2012

Dementia Hubs

It's been a while since our previous post, so I thought we were due an update on the dementia support hubs going into 2013.

Our hubs are for people with a recent diagnosis, or memory loss worries, and have a dual aim of connecting people with others in a similar situation, and inviting guests from local organisations of particular interest to carers and people with dementia.  

We want to ensure people have the information they need, to adjust to life with dementia in the present and planning ahead. The groups are informal and welcoming to all.

Urmston Hub

Conservative Club, Crofts Bank Road
First Tuesday of the month (6th Nov, 4th Dec, 8th Jan etc)
1:30- 3:30 pm

Hale Hub

Hale Library, Leigh Road 
Third Monday of the month (19th Nov, 17th Dec, 21st Jan etc)
1:30 - 3:30 pm

Carers Group and Post-Christmas meet

Our Friday Carers Group at Butler Court will cease from January 2013.

Instead, we are starting a floating group, to meet in various public establishments around Trafford every 6 weeks.  Carers are welcome to attend all the dates, but we also extend to those who just want to come along when we are at a local venue. Carers can treat themselves to lunch if they wish.

Before our carers group gets started in earnest, we will be having a post-Christmas social, to which both people with dementia and carers are invited:

Friday 13th January, 1pm at The King's Ransom in Sale.

People will be able to buy lunch or simply come for the company. If you would like to come, please let the dementia advisers know, so we have an idea of how many will attend - on 0161 746 3944.

The 2013 Carers Meetings are planned as follows,  1 - 3pm:

Monday 11th February at Mersey Farm, Ashton on Mersey
Tuesday 26th March at The Roebuck, Urmston
Wednesday 1st May at The Moss Trooper, Timperley
Thursday 13th June at Dunham Massey Estate
Friday 26th July at Sale Water Park
Monday 23rd September at The Cottage, Hale
Tuesday 29th October at The Urmston Hotel, Urmston
Wednesday 11th December at The Hare and Hounds, Timperley

Please note, the above dates are only for carers.

As always, don't hesitate to call on 9161 746 3944 with questions or enquiries.