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The latest research report from the Lancet Commission on Dementia Prevention, Intervention, and Care, released on July 30, 2020, shows that modifying 12 risk factors from childhood to late life could delay or prevent 40% of dementia cases. Of these 12 risk factors, an untreated hearing loss in midlife remains the largest modifiable risk factor. The study also cites that, “hearing loss might result in cognitive decline through reduced cognitive stimulation.” Untreated hearing loss has been known to lead to social isolation. In times of social distancing, people who isolate themselves should also be aware of an increased risk of cognitive decline. With mask wearing and social distancing due to the pandemic, those with untreated hearing loss are having an even more challenging time communicating and connecting with others. Chief audiologist for HearingLife and a longtime hearing aid wearer, Dr. Leslie Soiles, recommends hearing aids to those with hearing loss as a means of maintaining a socially active lifestyle—and possibly reducing one’s risk of cognitive decline.
Fifty million people are living with dementia worldwide. Individuals with untreated mild hearing loss have double the dementia risk, those with moderate untreated hearing loss have triple the risk, and those with severe untreated hearing impairment have an increased dementia risk of up to five times that of those who do not have a hearing impairment, according to the National Institute of Health. A U.S. nationally representative survey of 2,040 people older than 50, tested every two years for 18 years, found immediate and delayed recall deteriorated less after initiation of hearing aid use, adjusting for other risk factors. “Hearing aid use was the largest factor protecting from decline adjusting for protective and harmful factors,” according to the survey.
The 12 modifiable risk factors identified in the report are: hearing impairment, education, hypertension, smoking, obesity, depression, physical inactivity, diabetes, low social contact, excessive alcohol consumption, brain injury, and air pollution. Out of all of these, hearing loss was the largest modifiable risk factor in protecting individuals from cognitive decline.
Living with untreated hearing lossUntreated hearing loss affects much more than just your ability to hear. There are far-reaching consequences of leaving your hearing challenges untreated. Learn more about the ways you or a loved one’s hearing difficulty can be affecting your overall quality of life.
How to know if you or a loved one have hearing lossThe signs of hearing loss can be vague and develop slowly, or they can be obvious and begin rather suddenly. Hearing loss is often described as an “invisible disability,” meaning that people don’t always notice or understand it when they experience it. It’s also not always obvious to friends and loved ones the reasons someone may be disconnecting, which often means that the person with the hearing loss suffers alone.
Below are several possible symptoms to help you recognize potential hearing loss. If you or a loved one have experienced one or more of these, it would be a good idea to have a hearing assessment:
1. You often ask others to repeat themselves
2. You can’t hear voices clearly over the phone
3. You turn up the volume on the TV loud enough to bother others
4. You have a continuous ringing in your ear
5. You have trouble following a conversation in a noisy environment
Having your hearing tested
When you are seeking options for getting tested, contact HearingLife, with over 600+ offices throughout the U.S., where most perform complimentary hearing assessments that can identify existing hearing issues or loss in hearing ability. This is a quick, painless and non-invasive test. Or, you can start by taking an online hearing test. If the online test indicates that you may have reduced hearing, you can then schedule an appointment with an expert HearingLife hearing care professional. HearingLife customers consistently rate their experience at the top; their 4.9 Google customer review rating (as of November 23, 2020) speaks volumes.
Most types of hearing loss can be overcome with professional hearing care. The options for treatment vary and depend on the degree and type of hearing loss you have, your lifestyle, and your budget.
Should you require hearing aids, expert hearing care professionals have in-depth knowledge of treating hearing loss and offer a wide selection of quality devices. They offer personalized care, including a follow-up plan that helps you to get used to your new devices. There are different types of hearing aids designed to meet your needs. IIC hearing aids are almost invisible and are tucked away inside your ear canal. BTE-style devices go behind your ear and can blend with your skin or hair color. Most hearing devices today are digital and offer many features to make your life more convenient, including Bluetooth® technology, connection to your smartphone and fast rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. “HearingLife will assist you in making the best selection to meet your needs,” Soiles says. “With our risk-free trial, you can experience life with your new hearing devices for 30 days and return them for a full refund if you are not completely satisfied.”
Soiles adds, “Due to the pandemic, HearingLife has put their customers and team members safety at the forefront by taking extra safety precautions to help keep everyone safe, and offer many new convenient services such as drive-up for repairs and virtual care.”
Visit hearinglife.com to learn more.
HearingLife is part of Demant, a world-leading hearing healthcare group built on a heritage of care and innovation since 1904. HearingLife operates more than 600 hearing care centers across 42 states. We follow a scientific, results-oriented approach to hearing healthcare that is delivered by highly skilled and caring professionals. Our vision is to help more people hear better through life-changing hearing health delivered by the best personalized care.