We must admit, our population is ageing. Ageing populations mean increasing numbers of people with age-associated conditions like dementia.
In developed countries, the number of people with dementia will increase by 100 per cent by 2040 as compared with 2001 (Ferri et al., 2005).
Here Biswajit Sadangi, Director & Audiologist with Manning Audiology answers all the important questions surrounding hearing loss and dementia.
Is there evidence that hearing impairment causes dementia?
All the studies that show poorer hearing is associated with poorer cognition function, and that hearing impairment is associated with increased risk of dementia.
It might be that hearing impairment contributes causally to risk of dementia.
There are at least three possibilities that could account for the association between poor hearing and poor cognition/dementia:
- hearing loss impacts cognition
- cognition impacts hearing
- a shared factor impacts both hearing and cognition
If hearing loss does lead to cognitive decline and dementia, could there be potential to reduce cognitive decline by treating hearing impairment?
If treating hearing impairment by fitting hearing aids (or by other means) is effective in reducing the adverse impact of hearing impairment on cognition.
Some examples are reducing depression or promoting social engagement or self-efficacy.
Then one might expect to see a positive impact of treatment of hearing impairment on cognitive decline and risk of dementia.
What role is there for interventions for hearing impairment in relation to cognitive decline and dementia?
Because hearing impairment is so highly prevalent, if small gains in reducing cognitive decline were achievable in a substantial proportion of the general population by treating hearing impairment, that could translate to a substantial reduction in numbers of people with dementia.
What should we do to be on top of this issue?
Well, the very first step is to get a comprehensive hearing assessment done by an audiologist to assess your current state of hearing.
Then keep regular checks on your hearing levels.
If there is any hearing loss present, better to act sooner than later.
Make your new year’s resolution to contact Manning Audiology's friendly staff and qualified audiologists to take that first step towards better hearing care.