New research suggests that wearing a hearing aid may reduce the risk of developing dementia



It is estimated that there are 11 million people with hearing loss across the UK, that’s around one in six of us. More than 40% of people over 50 years old have hearing loss, rising to 71% of people over the age of 70.

Number of people in Britain suffering hearing problems will rise by 40 per cent by 2035 amid a rapidly ageing population, a charity has forecast.

The charity Action on Hearing Loss believes the number of people suffering such difficulties will rise from one in six to one in five, as it called for more investment in treatment and research into hearing loss.

When hearing loss is unassisted, those with a mild hearing loss are twice as likely to develop dementia as people without hearing loss, whilst those with moderate hearing loss are three times more likely to develop dementia and those with severe hearing loss are five times more likely to develop dementia.

To try and figure out if there is indeed a connection between dementia and hearing aids, a study was conducted by the University of Exeter and King’s College London to attempt establishing a link. The experiment looked at the relationship between hearing loss and dementia.

Dr Anne Corbett, senior lecturer in dementia research at the University of  Exeter Said: “Previous research has shown hearing loss is linked to a loss of brain function, memory and an increased risk of dementia; Our work is one of the largest studies to look at the impact of wearing a hearing aid, and suggests that wearing a hearing aid could actually protect the brain.”

The researchers looked at 25,000 people who participated in the 25-year [PROTECT] study. PROTECT analyses the health of cognitively-sound people aged 50 or over. Of these, 4,372 self reported hearing loss. These participants were divided into two groups – the 1,557 who wore hearing aids and the 2,815 who did not.  Results revealed those who wore a hearing aid scored better on for their working memory and attention span.

While scientists are still unsure as to whether the condition is a cause of  the disease or a symptom, they have found that it can prevent the onset of dementia and slow it down by up to eight years.

One of  the first questions that anyone will have about something like this is why. Why does having a hearing aid slow down the symptoms of dementia?

A lot of people speculate that it’s something to do with our social interactions. Every time that you socialise  with someone, you are strengthening your cognitive functions – the intricacies and complexities of human language means that people keep their brains sharp by merely interacting with people. It’s long been thought that people who have the early stages of the disease can keep it in check by interacting with more people and reinforcing the parts of the brain which deal with human interaction.

But what happens when you go deaf?

Well, it becomes harder to interact. The critical component of socialisation – talking – isn’t as easy when you can’t hear what’s going on and have no way to respond to the social cues and little details. It means that people make a decision to withdraw from socialising, and then it becomes even more tricky to combat the crippling effects of the condition.

Professor Clive Ballard, of the University of Exeter Medical School, added: “We know that we could reduce dementia risk by a third if we all took action from mid life. This research is part of an essential body of work to find out what really works to keep our brains healthy. This is an early finding and needs more investigation, yet it has exciting potential. The message here is that if you’re advised you need a hearing aid, find one that works for you. At the very least it will improve your hearing and it could help keep your brain sharp too.”

So you can probably begin to understand why it can be so crucial for people to have the right level of hearing aid when they start to lose that sense. Hearing aids can help someone who is struggling to see the world to look at it in a brand new way. It gives them the tools that they need for success and, to be honest, it’s incredible to be able to hold back dementia.

There is strong evidence that cognitive decline can be addressed through early detection of hearing loss and the provision of amplification (hearing aids). Hearing is arguably the most important sense you have as it is your connection to the outside world.

The first step in understanding your hearing is to have a hearing assessment . This will measure how well your recognise sounds across different frequencies and intensities. The resulting audiogram forms the basis for any further treatment.

We are proud to collaborate with Aston Hearing – an independent, family hearing care consultancy, established in Buckinghamshire, we co-host monthly educational and awareness events for the local community in different health and wellness clubs across Buckinghamshire , Oxfordshire and Hertfordshire.

All Welcome, please do share with friends and family – a great opportunity to find out more about ear and hearing concerns with the team from Aston Hearing and the charity Hearing Link. Also to learn more about dementia and  private home care for the future or for someone you know like a family member or friend.

We urge all people in UK to take hearing seriously. Your hearing and ear health should not be ignored at any stage of life.

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