Hearing Loss and Dementia

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Hearing aids don’t just amplify sound, they amplify quality of life and keep you mentally sharp. Not many of us are in a big hurry to have our hearing tested or purchase hearing aids but maybe we would be if we realized all of the health benefits treating hearing loss can provide.

On average a person that is having difficulty hearing will wait seven years before they do anything about it. Over the course of these seven years precious time is being lost. Not only are they missing out on conversations but there is research indicating that delaying the use of hearing aids can lead to a degradation of word recognition. An ear that hasn’t been stimulated due to untreated hearing loss loses some of its ability to understand speech even with amplification. If you are someone who has been sitting on the fence for a few years, do not despair, the same research indicates that this degradation may be reversible in some cases once treated with hearing aids.

Listening to Your Body
Hearing loss is linked to several chronic diseases. There is a higher prevalence of hearing loss with chronic health conditions such as diabetes, chronic kidney disease, and cardiovascular disease. Individuals that have been diagnosed with any of these health issues would be wise to make a hearing test part of their yearly physical examination. Research has also found a link between hearing loss and dementia although this relationship is a bit different. The above diseases may increase the risk of developing hearing loss, whereas untreated hearing loss may result in an accelerated decline in cognitive ability. Participants that presented with a hearing loss at the beginning of the study were far more likely to develop dementia and the risk increased with the severity of the hearing loss. This suggests that hearing loss could be an early warning sign of dementia. Most importantly, the study also found that fitting a person with hearing aids might delay the onset.

It Affects Everyone
Untreated hearing loss can also lead to relationship issues. Communication with family and friends can be very frustrating for both parties. The strain of actively listening all day results in increased irritability, fatigue and stress. None of these feelings are good for our relationships or our health. In fact people living with untreated hearing loss are more likely to report depression, anxiety, and paranoia and are less likely to participate in organized social activities, compared to those who wear hearing aids.

Hearing loss can have a negative effect on your life at any age. The consequences of undiagnosed or untreated hearing loss can include reduced job performance and earning power, reduced alertness and increased risk to personal safety, impaired memory and ability to learn new tasks as well as diminished psychological and overall health. If you suspect your hearing sensitivity has dropped, have your hearing tested no matter what your age.

Acquired hearing loss can develop overnight (if it does, head straight to the hospital) but in most cases it is a slow and subtle decline. As a result, it is difficult for someone to perceive the true extent to which hearing loss is impacting their lives. The consequences of leaving hearing loss untreated are serious and completely under-estimated. Education is one way to raise awareness and change attitudes. Help spread the word. Hearing aids are good for you!