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About 4 in 10 dementia cases are said to be preventable and linked to 12 risk factors, including hearing loss. But a survey for Alzheimer’s Research UK (ARUK) found that although 35 percent of people had concerns about their hearing, less than half of those had done anything about it.
Hearing loss can also lead to other factors connected to dementia – such as social isolation and physical inactivity – creating a spiral effect.
Dr Sarah Bauermeister, senior scientist at Dementia Platforms UK, said: “In my own research, we found that hearing aid users had a 50 percent lower risk of mild cognitive impairment if they wore their hearing aid…compared to those who did not.
“In our second study, we found that in these people, if they had hearing impairment and wore a hearing aid, the progression from mild cognitive impairment to dementia was reduced by 27 percent.”
She added: “It is very important that hearing aids are more accessible, affordable, more easily used.
“Regular hearing checks are very important across the life-span, so [it should be] normalised to have a hearing check, whether you’re 30 or 40.”
Other risk factors for dementia include high blood pressure, smoking, obesity, alcohol abuse, head injuries, poor education, depression, diabetes and air pollution.
A YouGov poll found 98 percent of people could do more to stave off dementia – and today ARUK launches its Think Brain Health Check-in, a 10-minute online quiz for those in their 40s and 50s.
ARUK’s Prof Jonathan Schott said: “Evidence shows there are steps we can take to improve our brain health.
“Currently only a third of people realise this is possible – and we urgently need to change that.”
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