Dementia was once cited by a 2017 The Lancet study as the toughest global challenge of the 21st century, in terms of health and social care. The purpose of the study was to look for ways to manage and prevent dementia. As of 2017 data, there are 47 million people who are affected by dementia. This creates a sense of urgency to try and find ways to manage this health issue. The rapidly aging population also does not help the cause; experts believe that the number of people affected by dementia will triple in 2050.
Hearing Loss and Dementia
The report has cited that hearing loss is one of the lifestyle factors that can be modified, if you want to reduce the risk of developing dementia. According to the study, dementia does not have to be an inevitable consequence of aging, just as most people thought. Hearing loss is one of those lifestyle factors that were pointed as something that you can and should control. The other lifestyle factors that were cited are smoking, depression, lack of physical activity, obesity, diabetes, and many more.
These are all lifestyle factors that can be prevented or modified. By quitting harmful habits such as smoking or spending several hours each week to exercise, you not only prevent dementia, but also a host of other health risks.
According to research studies, there are four ways in which hearing loss is linked to dementia:
- When you have difficulty hearing, your cognitive resources are utilized to comprehend what you are hearing. This leads to decline in cognitive ability to encode memory. This refers to the inherent cognitive load for each individual.
- Research studies also suggest that a person’s hearing system and cognitive functions are connected through a same physiological pathway. When one of them is declining, the other suffers, too.
- Another reason why hearing loss increases risk for dementia is that it can alter your brain structure. When your brain is unable to perform its natural processes, it can impact your ability to store and process memories.
- The last factor is social isolation. Experts who have studied the link between the two believe that people with hearing loss suffer from social isolation. This social isolation can eventually lead to increased risk for dementia, especially in older age.
Dementia Can Be Prevented
Given that there are lifestyle factors that contribute to dementia, it is a comforting thought that you can prevent it. It is important that you learn how to manage any of the lifestyle factors cited above. These factors can trigger dementia at various points in your life. Make sure you are aware of these factors and do your best to prevent dementia.
Hearing loss is one of the risk factors involved for anyone who wants to manage and prevent dementia. The symptoms of this condition are not evident until you reach the age of 60 and above. But there are instances wherein the symptoms can show up as early as 40 years of age.
When it comes to hearing loss, experts recommend that you manage it when you are between the ages 40 to 65. That way, the hearing loss has not impacted your cognitive skills just yet. The study goes as far as to conclude that if you can manage hearing loss, it can reduce the risk of acquiring dementia by up to 33%.