In Australia today there are an estimated 413,000 Australians living with dementia, 55 per cent of whom are female.
That number is expected to leap to 536,000 by 2025 and to an incredible 1.1 million by 2056. There is no known cause or cure so you can see why many aging Australian’s are worried.
However, according to a new study by Baycrest there is some hope in understanding the disease and ways to prevent it. The study has shown that memory loss in many older Australian’s isn’t necessarily an early warning sign of Alzheimer’s but simply a result of hearing loss.
Not wearing hearing aids major contributor to memory loss
An astounding 56 % of the participants evaluated in the study for memory and cognitive issues had some form of hearing loss but a quarter of them showed no signs of a brain disorder. Surprisingly, out of these participants only 20% were already using hearing aids. The rest of the participants did not realise that the hearing loss was the true cause of their memory problems.
“We commonly see clients who are worried about Alzheimer’s disease because their partner complains that they don’t seem to pay attention, they don’t seem to listen, or they don’t remember what is said to them,” said clinical neuropsychologist at Baycrest, Dr. Susan Vandermorris.
Hearing Loss is more common than we know
It is surprising that a study like this has not previously been performed, especially since we know that hearing loss is the third most common chronic health condition among older adults. 50% of individuals over the age of 65 and 90% of people over the age of 80 experience hearing loss.
Unfortunately hearing loss can be put on the back burner by many Australian’s, thinking that no one will notice or that this is all just a normal part of aging that one must live with. This is not the case, and getting your hearing assessed is a quickly and simple way to find out whether you need help.
Treating your hearing loss now will reduce your risks for memory loss
“Since hearing loss has been identified as a leading, potentially modifiable risk factor for dementia, treating it may be one way people can reduce the risk. People who can’t hear well have difficulty communicating and tend to withdraw from social activities as a way of coping. This can lead to isolation and loneliness, which can impact cognitive, physical and mental health.” said author of the study Marilyn Reed.
The full documentation for the Baycrest Study can be found on the Canadian Journal on Aging website.
Katie from Hear Clear Australia explains ” we have many older Australian’s who have waited too long to come in and have a thorough hearing assessment performed. What they now believe to be memory loss or early onset Alzheimer’s could actually just be a result of not having appropriate hearing aids fitted when they needed them. It is always better to get these things checked early rather than live with the worry.”