Loss of hearing and some speech abilities could be Alzheimer’s early signs – Study finds

Use of speech fillers such as “ah,” “Uhm’” and the likes are not just indications of less fluency. Sometimes, it means a minimal thinking and memory problems. New research by U.S. researchers warns that such speech problems may be an early indication of mental decline which could lead to Alzheimer’s disease.

Details of the study

The study involved many subjects who were shown an image within a space of two years. Those with signs of mild cognitive problems performed less well on certain verbal skills when compared to others who have no memory impairment.

The lead author of the research, Sterling Johnson from the University of Wisconsin-Madison said that they discovered that there are language aspects that are affected at a time we never thought – possibly before or at the same period memory impairment occurs.

Another lead author of the study, Kimberly Mueller said the mild thinking problem is different from what most people experience during old age. In the research, it happened several times within a short while.

Initially, the team performed the picture-and-description test on 400 subjects who had no cognitive problems, and this resulted in no verbal ability change. Consequently, they conducted the test on 264 other subjects who were registered at the Wisconsin Registry for Alzheimer’s prevention. The test examined people in their 50s and 60s, and many of them have their parents as Alzheimer’s patient. 64 of these people had already shown signs of early reduction or developed it in the next two years – according to neurological examination.

The next batch of the test revealed that they dropped on ideas and contents expressed, likewise fluency. They failed to pronounce shorter sentences and took more time to speak.

A related research suggests similar results

The result of the study was analyzed at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in London.
A distinct study by Taylor Fields, a doctoral student, and his team hinted the same thing – loss of hearing ability could be related to the mental-decline issue.

The research involved 783 persons from the same enrollment project. The study unveiled that participants who said that they have hearing impairments at the beginning of the research had more than two times a chance to suffer mild cognitive impairment in the next five years compared to those who never reported having a hearing issue.

However, the leader of researchers at Alzheimer’s Research UK said that not everyone with little memory issues deteriorates to dementia. She added that it would be great if scientists could go further to analyze if speech changes can be a means of identifying people who will develop dementia.