Previous studies have shown the link between hearing loss and dementia1, but a new report suggests that looking after your hearing health may help protect against cognitive decline.
The Lancet published a new report on July 30, 2020 which indicates that hearing loss is a significant modifiable risk factor against dementia.2
The recent Lancet study presents that "hearing loss might result in cognitive decline through reduced cognitive stimulation", and the Lancet therefore encourages taking measures to manage hearing loss.
By being proactive and managing hearing loss as soon as possible, the risk for cognitive decline and dementia may be reduced.1, 2, 3, 4
Modifiable risk factors
There are 12 lifestyle factors, including hearing loss, which account for around 40% of worldwide dementia cases. The Lancet study suggests that reducing these risk factors may decrease the risk of developing dementia.
These risk factors include:
- less education
- excessive alcohol consumption
- social isolation
- physical inactivity
- air pollution
- diabetes and
- hearing loss.
Modifying these risk factors might prevent or delay up to 40% of dementias.2
Keeping the brain mentally stimulated
As one of our most important senses, hearing allows us to connect with others and live an active lifestyle. Studies have linked untreated hearing loss to withdrawal from social situations, social isolation, stress, depression and reduced performance at work or during education.
Another study notes that "hearing impairment is associated with a 30-40% rate of cognitive decline.4
Managing your hearing loss and making sure your brain stays mentally stimulated is one way you can help protect yourself against the risk of cognitive decline.2, 4
Keeping the gateways to communication open by managing your hearing loss could help facilitate a healthy and active lifestyle through all stages of life — especially in mid to later stages of life where the risk for dementia increases.1, 5
Improve your long-term health
It is important to take good care of your ears — protecting your ears from excessive loud noise could help prevent hearing loss.1 If you think that you might have hearing loss, it’s a good idea to get your hearing checked so that you can manage it.
1 G Livingston, A Sommerlad, V Orgeta, et al. Dementia prevention, intervention, and care. The Lancet. July 20, 2017.
2 G Livingston, Jonathan Huntley, Andrew Sommerlad, et al. Dementia prevention, intervention, and care: 2020 report of the Lancet Commission. The Lancet. July 30, 2020.
3 F.R Lin, E Jeffrey Metter, Richard J O’Brien, et al. Hearing loss and incident dementia. Arch Neurol. Vol 68, No 2. February 2011.
4 F.R Lin, Marilyn Albert. Hearing Loss and Dementia – Who’s Listening?. Aging and Mental Health. Vol 18, No 6. May 29, 2014.
5 World Health Organization. Dementia. September 19, 2019.