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Hearing Aids Slow Dementia

A thought provoking piece of research emerged out of America this week linking hearing loss with dementia. As with all these things, more research needs to be done, however, the research suggested that with untreated hearing loss, dementia can be brought forward or enhanced by the associated reduction in cognition, understanding and social interaction that hearing loss has the potential to bring about. It is important to point out that having hearing loss was not suggested to be the cause of dementia rather that one is more likely to develop it at the same age as one’s compatriots that did not. It is also important to point out that the more severe the nature of the hearing loss, the more the likelihood of dementia developing.

What this study didn’t investigate was whether the use of hearing aids as a method of treatment for hearing loss reduced or eliminated this associated risk. Although it would seem logical that it would be the case (unless a link between the physiological rather than psychological nature of hearing loss proved to be the case). On that basis, would it be fair to say that treating one’s hearing loss is likely to reduce the onset and/or the severity of dementia? Something to ponder albeit that further work would needs to be done to establish the validity of this statement.

In the meantime, treating hearing loss with hearing aids has considerable social and personal benefits as have been widely written about – this may be a further and seemingly more compelling argument in favour of seeking hearing help before the condition becomes typically untenable. On average people wait for a period of around 7 years from first recognising a potential hearing problem before ultimately obtaining help – this is driven by many factors, including the fear of being labelled as ‘getting old’. There can be little question that the onset or development of dementia would almost certainly attract the very same fear; the consequences of which would be considered, by most, as more far reaching. Seeking hearing help already has some well established benefits and perhaps we are seeing the dawn of one of the most significant to date.

Please find a link below to the story covering the research for more information:

http://www.foxnews.com/health/2011/02/15/study-hearing-aids-slow-dementia/

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