Who knew hearing aids had the power to change the world? Today’s fact underscores the vital role hearing aids can play in the prevention of dementia.
According to the renowned Lancet Commission on Dementia, Prevention, Intervention and Care, dementia has become “the greatest global challenge for health and social care in the 21st century”. But by simply choosing to look after our hearing health, we can collectively make a difference in the fight against dementia.
Why is dementia such an important issue to address on a global scale? Here is what the World Health Organization has to say:
- Right now, more than 55 million people have dementia globally.
- Nearly 10 million new cases of dementia emerge each year.
- Currently, dementia is the seventh leading cause of death—and one of the main causes of disability and dependency among older people worldwide.
- Dementia cost economies 1.3 trillion dollars across the world in 2019. About 50 percent of these costs correlate with care provided by family and close friends. These informal caregivers provide on average 5 hours of care and supervision each day.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in the U.S. alone, more than 16 million people provide 17 billion-plus hours of unpaid care for family and friends with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.
How does hearing loss contribute to dementia?
Scientists attribute the following as contributing factors:
- Hearing loss shifts the cognitive load of the brain. The brain spends too much energy trying to process what it’s hearing, giving it less time to spend on thinking and memory.
- Hearing loss accelerates brain atrophy. While all brains shrink as we age, in studies, people with impaired hearing had “accelerated rates of brain atrophy.”
- Hearing loss leads to social isolation and loneliness. Social isolation has been associated with a 50 percent increased risk of dementia.
But based on what scientists believe, treating hearing loss could be the solution that prevents up to 9 percent of dementia cases worldwide—again, millions of cases per year. If that weren't enough, a 2023 study found that for older adults at risk of cognitive decline, hearing aids were shown to reduce the risk by nearly half.
Join the collective fight against dementia—treat your hearing loss
The devastation of dementia is real—for those who have it and the people who love them. But by treating our hearing loss with hearing aids, we can collectively reduce the number of dementia cases and the impact on everyone in its wake. Think of all the people that could be given the potential to live full, happy lives, and with the quality of life everyone deserves.
Finding a hearing care professional is easy
So, if you have been thinking about getting your hearing tested or treating the hearing loss, you’re already aware of, don’t wait. Schedule an appointment with a licensed hearing care professional. If you don’t have one, simply type your zip code in here to generate a list of local providers who will be happy to help.
There’s no better time than right now—Healthy Aging Month—to make one of the best choices you can make for your overall health and future. (And for the people who love you, too.)
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