The Lancet August 2020 Commission report titled “Dementia Prevention, Intervention and Care”, identified hearing loss as the HIGHEST of 11 potentially modifiable health and lifestyle factors from different phases of life that, if eliminated, could prevent dementia.
The report reflected a compilation of research which showed that intervention for hearing loss could, in fact, push back the onset of dementia for many people for years.
A study by Dr. Richard Gurgel, looked at more than 4,400 men and women aged 65 and older and found that those with hearing loss at the beginning of the study developed dementia earlier and at a higher rate than those without hearing loss.
1. Dr. Gurgel’s first hypothesis: “cognitive load theory”
– He explains that this means that if the brain is constantly coping with reduced sounds, its resources are devoted to processing those sounds to the disadvantage of other BRAIN processes (such as memory and thinking).
2. Dr. Gurgel’s second theory: involves brain atrophy.
– Hearing impairment may directly contribute to faster rates of atrophy in parts of the brain that process sound. Those parts of the brain do not work in isolation, rather, they also “play roles in memory and sensory integration and have been shown to be involved in the early stages of mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease”.
If you find yourself frequently asking loved ones to repeat themselves, accuse others of mumbling, constantly turning the TV up, or lip-reading to understand speech in a noisy environment, we urge you to have your hearing tested.
Know your hearing status and keep your mind fit!