It is unlikely that anyone reading this post does not know someone suffering from, or affected by dementia. There are 1.2 million people in the UK (48 million worldwide) living with dementia. It is a far reaching disease which not only affects the individual, but all of their family, friends, and carers. Hearing loss has been identified as one of nine key modifiable factors that contributes to development of dementia.
Other factors were lack of education (8%), smoking (5%), failing to treat depression (4%), physical inactivity (3%), isolation (2%), high blood pressure (2%), obesity (1%), and type 2 diabetes (1%). The percentages are indications of how much of the risk each factor contributes, hearing loss carried the largest risk at 9%. These are all categorised as modifiable, as they can all be treated at least to some degree.
There are suggestions that hearing loss may add to the burden of a vulnerable brain, and increase the progression of dementia. Both hearing loss and dementia have been reported to cause increased social disengagement and depression, so may exacerbate or accelerate each other’s symptoms.
It is not yet completely clear whether the use of hearing aids and other instruments can prevent the onset of dementia. Hearing loss is known as a modifiable risk factor because it can be addressed and improved. Social isolation and depression contribute 6% of the modifiable dementia risk to potential cases, and hearing loss has long been known to cause both of these conditions. With this in mind, treating hearing loss, by default, often also takes care of two other major factors, and could potentially reduce dementia risk by 15%. Other risk factors could be addressed: by stopping smoking, keeping your mind agile, and regular exercise, and you could potentially negate most of the prospective 35% risk – vastly reducing the possibility of dementia onset.
Dementia is an unfortunate inevitability for many people. However disheartening this seems, to be able to potentially negate the effects of 35% of the risks puts us in a very strong position. Knowledge is always the first step towards a cure, and though currently all advice is only preventative, we are certainly heading in the right direction.
If you are worried about your hearing health in relation to dementia (or otherwise) and would like some advice, please do not hesitate to contact us for professional, friendly guidance.
Phone: 01270 611 212
Observed Hearing Loss and Incident Dementia in a Multiethnic Cohort
(Golub et al. 2017)
Hearing loss as a risk factor for dementia: A systematic review
(Thomson et al 2017)
Age-related hearing loss and dementia: a 10 year national population-based study
(Su et al. 2017)
Dementia prevention, intervention, and care
(Livingston et al. 2017)