Dementia: Wear a hearing aid to slow cognitive decline and reduce dementia risk

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An easy way to potentially slow cognitive decline and help inhibit progression from mild cognitive impairment to dementia is to wear a hearing aid whenever you need it. That’s according to a research article published in the journal Alzheimer’s and Dementia Translational Research and Clinical Interventions. Led by Dr Magda Bucholc of the University of Ulster, Northern Ireland, the researchers analyzed a sample of over 2,000 people.

The participant dataset – obtained from the National Alzheimer’s Coordinating Center (NACC) – consisted of people over the age of 50 with hearing loss.

Their cognitive status ranged from mild cognitive impairment to dementia.

What is the difference between mild cognitive impairment and dementia?

Leading charity Alzheimer’s Research UK explained that mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is a condition in which people experience problems with memory and thinking.

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The researchers measured how long it took someone to go from MCI to dementia and whether or not they used a hearing aid.

According to the analysis, the use of hearing aids was associated with a slower two-year progression from MCI to dementia.

There are, of course, limitations and co-factors to the research study.

Dr Bucholc added: “What is still unclear is the effect of hearing loss on long-term brain structure and function.”

The NHS said: “Research into the links between hearing loss and dementia is growing.”

Currently, people with severe untreated hearing loss are five times more likely to develop dementia.

“It is thought that wearing hearing aids earlier and more regularly could help reduce the risk of cognitive decline and dementia,” the NHS said.

You can book a free hearing test at Boots and Specsavers in the UK.

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