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Dementia is a brain condition that affects other parts of your brain that control your thinking, memory, and language. Memory loss does often come with age, but the difference between forgetfulness and dementia is the difference between forgetting where you put down the book you were reading and how to run the oven.
Forty-six million people worldwide live with dementia, the most common form of which is Alzheimer’s Disease. Worldwide, dementia cases cost care $818 billion a year.
It is not surpassing with such a global health issue that research is ongoing on how best to prevent dementia. A recent study goes on to demystify this disease, identifying 12 factors that could increase the risk of dementia.
Hearing loss treatment: one of 12 ways to minimize the risk of dementia.
According to a report by the Lancet Commission, treating hearing loss was found as one of the 12 factors that could delay or prevent 40 percent of dementia cases. Additional factors included:
- Social isolation
- Physical inactivity
- Diabetes later in life (65 and up).
- Excessive intake of alcohol
- Mid-life head injury
- Later-life air pollution.
The commission recommends that individuals use hearing aids to treat their hearing and prevent hearing loss by protecting the ears against high noise levels.
“We are learning that tactics to avoid dementia begin early and continue throughout life, so it’s never too early or too late to take action,” according to the commission member and AAIC presenter Lon Schneider, MD.
How hearing impairment leads to cognitive deterioration
You may think you know everything about hearing loss, but it affects far more than just your relationships to fail to understand. Loss of hearing makes it hard to follow conversations, focus, or perform cognitive tasks.
Untreated hearing loss results in a host of associated complications, such as reduced mobility, increased chances of falls, drops, and injuries, and lower quality of life. Hearing loss is also associated with poor physical and mental health, social isolation, and a rapid decline in cognition.
A recent French study followed a group of more than 3,500 people for 25 years to learn more about how their hearing loss influences other aspects of their health. Lead researcher, Hélène Amieva from Victor Segalen Bordeaux University in France, analyzed the self-reports of seniors with and without hearing loss to learn more about their hearing health and cognitive abilities. They find that living with untreated hearing loss in older adults speeds up cognitive decline, but this is mitigated by hearing aids.
Depression and Alzheimer’s disease
Hearing loss can increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Since hearing loss is closely related to rapid cognitive decline, it is not hard to see why. When you have hearing loss, the brain’s auditory areas are not being used to the max. Then these parts of the brain get used for something else or even die. This causes your brain to shrink, accelerating cognitive deterioration.
Once you undergo this sudden cognitive decline, the risk for Alzheimer’s Disease, the most common form of dementia, is significantly increased. Cognitive decline leads to large cell deposits called plaques and tangles interfering with brain function, dividing cells, and causing cell death. If you don’t properly use your brain, as with hearing loss, you will further weaken your mind and make it easier for Alzheimer’s to affect large areas of your brain.
How can hearing aids help?
Having a hearing assessment is one concrete way of helping to reduce the risk of dementia growth. While untreated hearing loss can be a factor in dementia development, it has also been shown that hearing aids slow the rates of cognitive decline in hearing loss sufferers. If you have noticed some changes in your hearing, scheduling a hearing test as soon as possible is crucial.
Here are some other ways to avoid Alzheimer’s disease:
- Eat a healthy diet
- Exercise regularly
- Limit alcohol intake
- Treat other health problems like obesity, hypertension and high blood pressure
For a comprehensive hearing test, contact us at Swift Audiology today. We’ll be able to choose the perfect hearing device to fit your lifestyle and hearing needs after an extensive hearing test. A pair of quality hearing aids will help you hear, stay active, and maintain a healthier brain.