Can treating hearing loss reduce your risk for dementia?

In 2017, a study published in The Lancet, one of the world’s leading medical journals, called dementia “the greatest global challenge for health and social care in the 21st century.”

The study was conducted by The Lancet Commission on Dementia Prevention, Intervention and Care, who’s purpose was to provide recommendations for the prevention and management of dementia.

The urgency of the Commission’s recommendations is real. In 2015, 47 million people were living with dementia. But thanks to a rapidly aging worldwide population, that number is expected to triple by 2050.

Hearing loss is one of nine modifiable lifestyle factors for dementia

In their 62-page report, the Commission writes that “dementia is by no means an inevitable consequence” of aging. Instead, they suggest that nine modifiable “lifestyle factors might reduce, or increase, an individual’s risk of developing dementia.” Ranked from highest risk to lowest, those modifiable lifestyle factors are:

  1. Hearing loss
  2. Childhood education
  3. Smoking
  4. Depression
  5. Physical inactivity
  6. Social isolation
  7. Hypertension
  8. Obesity
  9. Diabetes

A third of dementia cases might be preventable

According to the Commission, how an individual manages these nine lifestyle factors at various points in their life plays a huge role in whether that individual will be affected by dementia.

Dementia typically doesn’t manifest itself with symptoms until the age of 65+. But the study’s authors note that it likely begins between ages 40-65. They determined that managing these nine modifiable risk factors at various stages of life could “contribute to prevention or delay of dementia.” 

For hearing loss, the recommendation is to manage it in midlife (between age 40-65), before it has a chance to negatively impact cognitive skills.

The Commission concludes that if these nine lifestyle factors are managed properly or eliminated, it “might prevent more than a third of cases of dementia.”

Hearing-loss-and-dementia

Why hearing loss is a risk factor for dementia

The Commission admitted that the science isn’t yet unanimous on why unmanaged hearing loss can increase the risk of dementia. But research has confirmed that hearing loss adds to the cognitive load of the brain, leads to social isolation and depression, and accelerates brain atrophy — all of which are likely contributing factors.

Our new hearing aids, Livio AI, were specifically designed to help people manage their hearing loss and achieve good cognitive health. In addition to being our best sounding and best performing hearing aids ever, they’re the first wearable device that helps you monitor your brain and body activity.

To help prevent dementia later in life, be proactive earlier

Having dementia is a real worry for older adults and for the people who care for them. The good news is that now there is research pointing to ways you can “reduce the incidence of dementia or substantially delay its onset” — and nearly all are within your control.

Hearing loss is absolutely something you can manage with the help of an experienced hearing professional. If you have hearing loss, this new research gives you a great reason to do something about it as soon as you can.

We can help. Call 0800 042 0000 or click here and we’ll connect you with a trusted hearing healthcare professional near you. 

By Starkey Hearing Technologies blog

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