Hearing Loss a risk factor for Dementia

Peninsula Hearing Services Hearing Loss Research

Hearing Loss a risk factor for Dementia

A new report  by the Lancet Commissions on Dementia Prevention, Intervention and Care suggests hearing loss a risk factor for dementia. The good news is the report suggests that managing hearing loss may be one way  to help lower the risk of dementia.  The report identified nine age-related risk factors for developing dementia. They include:

  • Before the age of 18: Level of education
  • Between the ages of 45-65: hypertension, obesity and hearing loss
  • Over the age of 65: smoking, depression, inactivity, social isolation and diabetes

dementia image leaves

What is dementia?

Dementia is a general term used to describe severe memory loss and other mental abilities typically affecting individuals 65 years of age and older. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia.

According to the Lancet Commissions, approximately 47 million people worldwide were living with dementia in 2015 at an estimated cost of $818 billion. Nearly 85 percent of that figure is related to non-medical costs, such as those affecting family and society. Experts estimate the number of cases of individuals living with dementia will increase to 66 million by 2030 and 131 million by 2050. The report was presented at the 2017 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference.

Estimated cases of dementia will increase to 66 million by 2030 and 131 million by 2050.

Dementia is a debilitating condition affecting individuals as well as their family members. People with dementia are twice as likely to be hospitalized than their cognitively healthy peers, according to a study by University of Washington researchers. Additionally, a March 2017 report by the Alzheimer’s Association indicates that of the 15 million Americans providing physical, emotional and financial support for family members with dementia, 35 percent will themselves suffer health-related issues as a result.

Dementia prevention

Can dementia be prevented? Possibly. The Lancet Commissions report suggests as many as one third of all dementia cases may be delayed or prevented by eliminating some of the risk factors — specifically, active treatment of hypertension in middle and old age, as well as increasing childhood education, exercise and social engagement, reducing smoking, and managing hearing loss, depression, diabetes, and obesity.

How to manage hearing loss

With this release of this study suggesting hearing loss a risk factor for dementia, managing hearing is an important part of maintain good emotional and physical health.  After the age of 65, it might be a good idea to schedule regular hearing evaluations. Make an appointment with a qualified hearing healthcare professional to have your hearing evaluated. Ask your physician for a referral or search Google or Yelp for an audiologist in your community.

Just as many adults are diligent about getting yearly physicals, it is good practice to schedule a hearing test every 2 or 3 years. Once you have a baseline audiogram, you and your hearing health provider can closely watch for changes and take action if and when necessary.

Treat your hearing loss

Although our ears collect the sound, it’s our brain which makes sense of all the noise. If you are diagnosed with hearing loss and hearing aids are recommended, don’t delay treatment with this current study suggesting hearing loss a risk factor for dementia. Today’s hearing devices are discreet, comfortable and connect to the latest technology. Not only will you be able to hear better, recent research indicates your brain will be healthier, too.

SOURCE: edited from an article “New Study names hearing loss as one of nine risk factors for dementia” by Debbie Clason, staff writer, HealthyHearing.com , August 22, 2017)