While the most common cause of dementia is aging, it is not inevitable that everyone will develop it. Those that do develop dementia tend to have other risk factors along with aging. Early onset hearing loss that is left untreated is among those risks. Other risk factors include hypertension smoking, depression, physical activity, social isolation and diabetes.
A study involving 2040 people age 50 and above, found compelling evidence of the link between slowed cognitive decline and the use of amplification with hearing in midlife (45-60 years of age). They suggested that several mechanisms may be involved to explain the relationship between early amplification and reduction in cognitive decline. Theory one was that the use of amplification in the form of hearing devices “reduced depression, and promoted greater physical activity and self-efficacy,” all of which guard cognitive function. Second, hearing devices reduce sensory deprivation of the brain, depression and social isolation.
Approximately 47 million people have dementia and that is expected to soar to more than double, 131 million people over the next 30 years. Unknown to many, is that 35% of those aged 55 or older have significant hearing loss. The hope is that treating hearing loss earlier in the disease process will reduce the number of people who develop dementia later in life. This hope is supported by a recent study from the EU. The first step to good hearing health is having a baseline audiologic assessment. We recommend a baseline audiologic assessment by age 45 years and the use of amplification when indicated. Hear Well Live Well.