Dementia and hearing loss
What could hearing loss have to do with dementia? There has been growing evidence for the past decade or so, that the risk of getting dementia increases if you have some degree of difficulty hearing. Furthermore, research suggests that even a mild degree of hearing loss can double your chances of getting dementia, with a moderate hearing loss tripling the chance and with a severe untreated hearing loss, increasing the risk five times.
Scientists are currently trying to find out why there appears to be this link, however there are a number of ideas as to why this may occur. One idea is that the harder the brain has to work to hear and listen, the less energy can be spent on memory and thinking. Another idea is that a hearing loss can cause an aging brain to shrink more quickly (less stimulation of different parts of the brain). A third idea is that increased social isolation can lead to less stimulation of the brain resulting in changes to brain structures.
What can be done?
Research suggests that taking steps to improve hearing at the earliest opportunity, for example using hearing aids, can offset somewhat these higher risks. Previously a mild hearing loss may not have impacted too much on a person’s ability to hear and the fitting of amplification may have been delayed. There now however appears to be growing evidence that introducing hearing devices sooner, will not only reduce listening fatigue but also reduce the associated risks of developing dementia.
What can you do?
Get your hearing tested. Hearing problems are often left until significantly affecting a person’s hearing ability. Ideally, a hearing health check should be carried out periodically, to identify hearing problems as they appear. If you or someone you know hasn’t had a hearing assessment for some time, then it may be wise to arrange this. Doing this will ensure you know exactly at what level hearing is at and furthermore, enable you to make the decision as to whether you might benefit from the use of digital hearing devices.
Paul at THE HEARING SPACE has a wealth of experience, including clinical, teaching, and research. Always looking to provide solutions and advice, he is happy to have an initial discussion to answer any questions you may have. To book a hearing test in North Leeds or your home contact Paul. https://thehearingspace.co.uk/contact/
Tel: 0113 8730444