How to HALVE your risk of developing dementia as you get older

WEARING hearing aids could halve the risk of developing early signs of dementia for millions of Brits, research suggests.

Around one in five older people are affected by mild cognitive impairment – or loss of brain power.

It is often a precursor to full blown dementia.

Experts from Oxford and Ulster universities found older people struggling with hearing loss are much more likely to suffer cognitive decline.

The condition affects a third of over-65s.

But those using hearing aids were unaffected and had similar risk to healthy adults.

Dr Magda Bucholc, a lecturer in data analytics at Ulster University, said hearing aid users had "more than 50 per cent lower risk of mild cognitive impairment compared to those not using them".

The study – which was co-funded by Dementias Platform UK – analysed data on nearly 4,500 adults with an average age of 68.

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The findings are published in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia: Translational Research & Clinical Interventions.

Around 850,000 Brits currently have the brain-wasting disease – and the figure is expected to hit one million within a decade.

Poor hearing has been repeatedly been linked to loss of brain power.
Experts estimate untreated hearing loss is responsible for around one in 11 dementia cases.

Dr Bucholc added: “Our findings imply that the use of hearing aids may help lessen cognitive decline associated with hearing loss.

“So, improved audiology screening and better access to quality hearing healthcare form an actionable strategy to reduce the incidence of MCI and help mitigate the impending dementia epidemic.”

Crystal Rolfe, from the Royal National Institute for Deaf People, said: “Our charity wants to encourage people to take better care of their hearing.

"Very encouragingly, their results suggest that people who wear their hearing aids are no more likely to develop MCI than people without hearing loss."

Dr Rosa Sancho, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “While recent research has revealed a link between hearing loss and dementia, it’s hard to know what causes this relationship or if hearing aids could put a stop to it.

“This research points to hearing aids helping to limit cognitive decline in people with hearing loss, but it relies on people accurately reporting their own hearing problems and use of the devices.

"To be confident in these results we need to see more research that verifies these findings using other techniques."

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