Hearing loss is the most significant modifiable risk factor in developing Dementia in later life!
After reading the Lancet Report on Dementia Prevention and Intervention, I looked a bit closer to what those factors were.
The report list twelve potential factors, that could be modified. This means if you do something about them, you could reduce the risk of you getting Dementia symptoms in later life.
“The risk of developing dementia doubles for older adults with mild hearing loss, and triples for those with moderate hearing loss. In addition, for those with severe hearing loss, the risk is five times that of someone who does not suffer hearing loss. Notably, the Lancet study also found that of twelve potential risk factors for developing Dementia, hearing loss was the highest at nine per cent.”
On first reading this, I was blown away. The figures mentioned just exploded in my mind, and the panic started. I stopped, took a step back and then started to look a bit closer. All wasn’t so dark!
The obvious thing to do then is get your hearing checked. See if you have an ear wax problem. Get a hearing aid if needed. Just do something to help with any hearing problems and the get that risk factor addressed.
However, what about if you cannot fix it? I’m profoundly deaf, and although I use a bone-anchored hearing aid, most of my life is quiet. Then some have lost their hearing, or are deaf from birth. Do the findings still stand, and what do we do about that?
There doesn’t seem to be any conclusive causal or correlational link between hearing loss and Dementia, but there are several theories.
Here are three of the most popular: These are direct quotes.
Hearing loss and cognitive decline occur in parallel. Hearing loss could be an early symptom of Alzheimer’s disease, causing impaired speech perception, especially in the presence of background noise. “Studies have shown a strong association, and, in addition, we have seen that the severity of cognitive decline is associated with the severity of hearing loss, which shows a compelling connection.”
Hearing loss increases demands on cognitive resources. The brain has to work a lot harder just to attend and listen with diminished hearing ability. The struggle to understand, and grasp, the conversation requires the brain to “borrow” cognitive tasks from other parts of the brain, especially memory. Basically, the more effort it takes to listen, the less information gets transferred to memory,
Hearing loss causes brain reorganization and/or social deprivation, resulting in cognitive decline. A decrease in hearing ability often causes withdrawal from social interactions and engagement. In turn, there is a reduction in cognitive function necessary to access and interact with the environment.
As you can see, it is a matter of taking your pick.
I have known many people that are deaf, and I would say they are just as intelligent and often a lot more than me. The older we get, the problems seem to be the same so, I conclude that those that are deaf, develop cognitively just the same as hearing, it is another way that the brain, adapts and deals with what it has. I cannot imagine what it would be like never to have had hearing, but then deaf friends have said, they don’t know what it would be like to hear.
For those who are suffering from hearing loss, it seems apparent that it would impact your life. The severity of the loss must increase that impact!
It would be best to alleviate any hearing loss problems as soon as possible. If you are concerned, then seek expert advice!
Then I come to the area where I reside. Those that are losing hearing and it is an ever increasing problem. It is known that hearing does seem to diminish with age and Dementia appears to increase, so I suppose that there is a connection in that fragile link, but there isn’t anything conclusive!
If you continue to be active in your life and not allow the deafness to shut you out from it, I cannot see why you would not maintain the quality of life you have always enjoyed. I’m not saying it is always easy and can sometimes be really, really frustrating; it is just another hurdle of life.
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