You may have heard that studies have shown there is an important link between hearing loss and dementia. Now, new research highlights that wearing hearing aids can protect you from cognitive decline.
The Lancet Commission published a new study on hearing loss and dementia on July 30, 2020, which shows that hearing loss is the largest modifiable risk factor against dementia.
According to the report, dementia risk varies based on level of hearing loss:1
Mild hearing loss doubles the dementia risk.
Moderate hearing loss triples the risk.
Severe hearing impairment increases dementia risk of up to 5 times that of those who do not have hearing impairment.
The recent Lancet study presents that “hearing loss might result in cognitive decline through reduced cognitive stimulation.” In addition, the Commission encourages the “use of hearing aids for hearing loss.” By being proactive and treating hearing loss as soon as possible, the risk for cognitive decline and dementia can be reduced.1,2,3,4
12 lifestyle factors for preventing dementia
In addition to hearing loss, there are 11 other lifestyle factors which can be adjusted in order to delay or prevent 40% of dementia cases.
The 12 lifestyle factors are:1
Hearing loss is the largest modifiable risk factor
In the case of hearing loss, if all hearing loss was optimally treated, nearly one in 10 cases of dementia could be eliminated.
Another study notes that “hearing impairment is associated with a 30-40% rate of cognitive decline.”3 By treating hearing loss with hearing aids, your brain stays mentally stimulated, meaning that you protect your brain from the risk of cognitive decline. Hearing aids are a gateway to communication and can help facilitate a healthy and active lifestyle through all stages of life – and especially in the mid to later stages of life where the risk for dementia increases.1
Dementia and hearing loss are global issues
Globally, there are around 466 million people with hearing loss (in the US, 48 million people have hearing loss7) and about 50 million people with dementia. Given that the two conditions are linked, treating hearing loss worldwide could be one way to lower the risk of dementia for people worldwide.5,6
Signs of hearing loss in yourself and others
As hearing loss often develops gradually, you may not notice it right away. However, if you know the signs of hearing loss, you may be able to begin treatment earlier. If you notice that your loved one keeps insisting that you turn down the television, or you feel like people are mumbling around you, you may be at risk.
How can you treat your hearing loss?
Hearing loss is most commonly treated with hearing aids. Today, modern hearing aids provide a wide range of user benefits so that you can hear the sounds around you in the most natural way possible.
Digital hearing aids can provide you with a 360-degree listening environment. They may allow you to focus on the most important sounds around you while balancing the whole soundscape so that you can filter out unnecessary background noise. Technology has advanced and people with hearing loss can now enjoy Bluetooth® hearing aids and rechargeable hearing aids.
Taking action today could improve your long-term health
The groundbreaking research provided by the Lancet study shows that you can dramatically lower your dementia risk by making some lifestyle changes. If you think that you might have hearing loss, it’s a good idea to get your hearing checked so that you can treat any level of hearing loss.
It can be difficult to make lifestyle changes, but remember that long-term health benefits are beneficial for both you and the people around you. The long-term benefits will far outweigh the short-term adjustment period. In fact, HearingLife has compiled a list of 52 benefits of better hearing for you to consider.
Are you concerned about your hearing?
To book a hearing assessment with your local hearing care expert, click here.
1. G Livingston, Jonathan Huntley, Andrew Sommerlad, et al. Dementia prevention, intervention, and care: 2020 report of the Lancet Commission. The Lancet. July 30, 2020.
2. G Livingston, A Sommerlad, V Orgeta, et al. Dementia prevention, intervention, and care.
The Lancet. July 20, 2017.