Hearing loss an increasing problem - but it's not hard to reduce the risks
OPINION: There is no current cure for dementia, so prevention needs to be the focus. As a recent Stuff article reported, the risk factor with the greatest potential to reduce dementia prevalence is hearing loss. When considered with respect to ethnicity, hearing loss was either the highest or second most influential risk factor among Māori, Pacific people, Europeans and Asians.
Reducing the impact of hearing loss is relatively simple. In New Zealand an adult can self-refer for a hearing test, to one of many private community-based practices; although typically it is friends and whānau who notice a person’s hearing loss before the affected person does. Hearing loss typically occurs gradually and can present as the need to have the TV volume louder or asking people to repeat themselves. Hearing aids could protect against cognitive decline by keeping the brain actively engaged and reducing social isolation.