Earlier this month, we celebrated World Hearing Day, and it got me thinking about vanity. I hated wearing glasses when I became short-sighted as a teen. I just didn't feel like me when I wore them. However, not wearing them simply wasn't an option, unless I wanted to miss out on so many things in life.
I think vanity and worrying about what others might think is a hurdle that we have to overcome when it comes to hearing loss and hearing aids. A lot of that is based on an outdated perception of hearing aids as big 'flesh-coloured' devices that everyone can see and hear as they whistle at inopportune moments and actually don't work very well. Modern hearing aids are super discreet; in fact, they are almost invisible and provide a really high-quality, high tech experience.
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We now know that untreated hearing loss is a big risk factor for dementia. Globally, 50 million people are living with dementia, a figure set to triple by 2050. In the absence of a cure, prevention is key. The Lancet Commission report found that modifying 12 risk factors could delay or prevent 40% of dementia cases.* Untreated hearing loss in mid-life was identified as the largest and most consequential of these risk factors.
When a person with hearing loss strains to figure out what someone is saying, areas of the brain involved in short-term memory and executive functions have to work harder than normal. This can bring about greater decline in both semantic and episodic memory. Hearing impairment may also lead to social withdrawal, depriving the brain of the mental stimulation of conversation and socialising which is essential for a healthy brain.
The good news is that all of this can be prevented by prioritising hearing health - getting your hearing checked regularly and wearing hearing aids if needed. To learn more about how to mitigate your risk of dementia, download our free information booklet at the link below. If you haven't had your hearing tested recently, now is the time to prioritise healthy hearing, healthy brain function and a happy, socially connected life.
Until next time,
Dr Sabina Brennan
Author, neuroscientist and medical advisor for Hidden Hearing
*Lancet Commission Report, "Dementia Prevention, Intervention and Care", July 30th 2020
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