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Hearing Aids Could Cut Dementia Risk

It’s not uncommon for people to procrastinate when facing something that may be unpleasant. Whether it is a big home maintenance project, like replacing a water heater, or an uncomfortable medical exam, we tend to make excuses to put off things we don’t want to do. But just as putting off routine home maintenance can cause an emergency, putting off preventive medical care can exacerbate health problems and even cause more down the road. That’s definitely the case when it comes to hearing loss.

According to the National Institutes of Health, 8.5% of adults age 55 to 64 in the United States have hearing loss. But that percentage rises quickly to 50% for adults age 75 and older. Of adults age 70 and older who could benefit from hearing aids, one-third have never tried using them.

Loss of Hearing Is Linked to Dementia

How does the loss of hearing increase the risk of dementia? Hearing loss affects more than just the ability to hold a conversation. It affects social skills. An older adult whose hearing loss makes it hard for them to talk might withdraw from socialization. This can cause unhealthy isolation, loneliness, and depression. Hearing loss also causes reduced activity in the part of our brains that processes sound. As hearing loss becomes more profound, the brain may give up on trying to interpret sounds, eventually causing the older adult to lose their sense of independence.

A study from Johns Hopkins revealed that mild hearing loss doubled a person’s risk of developing dementia, and moderate loss more than tripled the risk of dementia. That’s why it is important that older adults address hearing loss as soon as it happens. Simply using hearing aids could delay dementia or lower the risk of developing the condition.

Hearing Loss Is Not a Normal Part of Aging

Experts say that there is some stigma associated with hearing aids. People may tell themselves that their hearing loss is not bad or think they will automatically look “older” if they need hearing aids. Johns Hopkins said that this reluctance means that, on average, people wait almost 10 years after their first sign of hearing loss to actually get hearing aids. Or maybe they write the hearing loss off as a normal part of aging.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently established criteria and regulations to allow the sale of over-the-counter hearing aids. Previously, hearing aids were only available as a prescription from a hearing health professional. Even with this, it is still recommended that you go to a hearing health professional and get tested if you are experiencing hearing loss. There are five main types of hearing aids, and a professional can help you find the right pair for you.

How Right at Home Can Help

Right at Home’s in-home caregivers can help older adults get to their required medical appointments and stay socially connected. A wide range of other in-home care services is also available. Use our location finder to contact the office closest to you.

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Right at Home offers in-home care to seniors and adults with disabilities who want to live independently. Most Right at Home offices are independently owned and operated, and directly employ and supervise all caregiving staff.
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