VANCOUVER, Sept. 19, 2016 /CNW/ – Professor Yves Joanette, PhD, FCAHS, Chair of the World Dementia Council and Scientific Director of CIHR’s Institute of Aging, gave a keynote address last night at the 33rd World Congress of Audiology (WCA) in Vancouver. Professor Joanette used the opportunity to bring attention to the critical global issue of dementia and also highlighted the relationship to hearing loss in seniors.
“Dementia is a global challenge that is only going to grow as the global population ages and seniors live longer. Unfortunately, we now know that people suffering from untreated hearing loss are more likely to develop dementia than those who have normal hearing function,” said Professor Joanette. “The global dementia crisis will increase at an alarming rate between 2016 and 2050, and it is imperative that individuals suffering from hearing loss take preventative steps to reduce the likelihood of developing dementia in their lifetime.”
Currently, over 44 million people globally suffer from dementia. That number is forecasted to rise to 135 million by 2050, due to the aging population and increasing life expectancy. In 2016, an individual is diagnosed with dementia every three seconds. The social and emotional cost of living with dementia affects not only the individual but the entire network of friends and family. There are preventative steps individuals can take to reduce their chances of developing dementia. Persons suffering from untreated hearing loss can also take steps to minimize the risk of developing dementia.
“As colleagues in the field of Audiology, we know that communication health is integral to social development, and it remains so throughout a person’s life. While the evidence is clear on the relationship between poor hearing health and an increased incidence of dementia, more research and collaboration are needed to better prevent, diagnose, and treat this disease,” added Joanette. “Canada is lucky to have the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging, an all-star team on neurodegenerative aging, which includes links with sensory impairments. Together with colleagues around the world we are working collaboratively to combat this growing health challenge. Through continued support in research and innovation, we hope to ease and eventually eliminate the suffering for millions of people.”
While research has linked hearing loss and dementia, more research is needed to further study whether there is a common neurodegenerative cause/risk factor between hearing impairments and dementia. Audiologists and other hearing health experts are committed to combat this critical issue before it continues to escalate into a larger health emergency.
About the WCA
The World Congress of Audiology is the biennial Congress of the International Society of Audiology and is jointly hosted by Speech-Language and Audiology Canada and the Canadian Academy of Audiology in Vancouver, Canada.