A medical study earlier this year at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference and simultaneously published in the medical journal “The Lancet” found hearing aids reduce dementia risk in older adults by almost 50%.
Hearing specialist Greg Yordon with Beltone Hearing Care Center, which has a location in Chipley, took notice of the study and is using the results to publicize the importance of using hearing aids to potentially prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Hearing loss and cognitive decline are “intermingled,” Yordon said. As people experience hearing loss, they may become depressed and become socially isolated–factors which can increase the risk of Alzheimer’s.
Hearing aids can help bring people out of that isolated feeling, Yordon said. As hearing senses get stimulated, people feel like they are a part of things again, he said.
Yordon is calling for more of a medical focus on hearing issues. Very few physicians recommend hearing evaluations for patients as part of medical check-ups, which needs to change, he said.
“We need to prioritize hearing screenings to help with reduced risk of cognitive decline,” Yordon said.
As for preventive tips to lessen the amount of hearing loss, Yordon recommends reducing the level of noise people can expose themselves too–which can include wearing hearing protection if you’re using a loud lawnmower when cutting the grass.
“Noise reduction is a certain thing we have to do,” Yordon said.
Of course, there is the usual precaution against kids listening to music too loud and, particularly, doing so through headphones with the volume up too high.
“I see more and more of our youth coming in with hearing issues,” he said.
Yordon also suggests checking with doctors and particularly pharmacists about possible hearing side effects when prescribed medication.
However, Yordon said a certain amount of hearing capability gets naturally reduced for everyone as we age. Heredity is also a factor in potential hearing loss outside personal control.
“Heredity is one of the biggest causes of hearing loss, unfortunately,” Yordon said.
Individuals taking responsibility for their hearing health is necessary since doctors won’t and shouldn’t think of everything, he said.
People should ask for annual hearing evaluations, which can be done at Beltone’s Chipley location on Main Street for free.
More than half of people Yordon has tested have not had hearing losses. Then again, as he added, those are people who have taken “the bull by the horns.”
“Hearing testing should be part of your physical,” Yordon said.
Beltone representatives are available if other businesses or organizations would like them to give an educational presentation on hearing loss.