Cognitive Decline and Hearing Loss: Hearing Aids Can Reduce The Risk Of Acquiring Dementia
Posted 5th December 2019by Adam Chell
Dementia and Hearing Loss
In recent years the link between dementia and hearing loss has been a hot topic of conversation amongst audiologists. So today we are going to take a deeper look in to this link.
We have an aging population. By 2030 20% of people in england willl be over 65. 3.2 milliion of those will be over 85 by 2040. Also, 1 in 5 20 year olds living today will reach the age of 100.
Over the next 30 years there will be a decrease in the population of young children. Why does this matter? Because somebody needs to pay for the elderly and if we have more old people than working people, it can potentially bankrupt a country.
As a result, young people today are going to have to work much longer and save more money to ensure they are self sufficient in their retirement years.
Costs of dementia
In 2014 the cost of unpaid care was £11.6 billion. This is the amount the government is having to subsidise care for people that can’t afford it. This figure is ever increasing.
How is this relevant for hearing care professionals?
Eliminating midlife hearing impairment would therortically reduce the number of cases of dementia by 9%. This would save the economy £2.4 billion pound per year. If the onset of dementia was delayed by 5 years the savings would be £21.5 billion pound a year by 2050.
So can hearing aids slow cognitive decline?
Sense Cog, www.sense-cog.eu, look at the link between aging, hearing and cognitive impairment. They attempt to unravel the complex relationship between all three. USA data from 2040 respondents age 50+ from the US health and retirement study showed that the use of hearing aids delays the onset of dementia.
Hearing aids may reduce depression, promote social engagement and promote greater physical activity, which all reduce cognitive decline.
The Baltimore Longitudinal tudy of Aging (BLSA) summarised that participants with hearing loss showed accelareated atrophy of the whole brain, particualrly in the right temporal lobe. This means their brains actually got smaller.
Recent studies suggest that improving prevention, identification and treatment of hearing impairment may help to delay the onsent of cognitive impairment and reduce the impending dementia epidemic.
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