MIND YOUR VOLUME: Dr Adam Moreton says hearing impairment contributes to the risk of developing dementia (Image: Getty)
In a bid to lower the risk of dementia, a prominent psychiatrist is sounding the alarm anyone middle-aged to be mindful of excessive noise exposure and reconsider their relationship with headphones. Dr Adam Moreton from Pall Mall Medical pointed out a connection between hearing difficulties and cognitive decline, urging people to take simple yet crucial steps to preserve it.
In this report on WalesOnline, Dr Moreton stressed the importance of two fundamental health practices in middle age – monitoring and managing blood pressure and protecting one’s hearing. He placed a spotlight on hearing protection, ranking it as the second crucial step for a healthier cognitive future.
“Hearing impairment or loss contributes significantly to the risk of developing dementia,” he said. “After addressing and treating high blood pressure, which is the first step, ensuring your hearing is not subject to excessive noise exposure should be next on your health checklist.”
The psychiatrist talked about the subtle yet pervasive impact of loud headphones. “Ensure your headphones aren’t too loud because sensory impairment or loss of hearing does contribute to your risk of developing the condition,” he added.
An often overlooked solution he recommended is the use of hearing aids. Acknowledging potential resistance, Dr Moreton highlighted their broader benefits, extending beyond improved auditory capabilities. “Most people don’t like the idea of hearing aids, but there are lots of benefits, including to your cognition and thinking, going beyond just your improved ability to hear and communicate,” he explained.
“Not hearing properly causes unnecessary confusion, which over time can impact your understanding and thinking processes.” But most of the problem arises from the ripple effect of sensory impairment, warned Dr Moreton, adding that bewilderment leads to lack of social isolation.
“Most important is the consequence of not hearing on your social interactions. If you can’t communicate well with people because you can’t hear them, they’re probably not going to talk to you quite as much, making exchanges harder. You might be less inclined to start up conversations yourself. All these things will increase your chances of becoming isolated from other people.
“Lack of social contact, loneliness and withdrawing from life result in a loss of important daily cognitive stimulation and will have a knock-on effect on increasing your chance of dementia.
“Hearing is so important, so protect it before you lose it,” he continued. “And if you are losing it, you might need to suck up your pride and get some hearing aids to help maintain what you’ve got for as long as possible. In some cases, you might even find that your so-called memory problem was purely down to poor hearing and is completely reversible! For the rest of you, then protecting your hearing as best as possible is still crucially important.”
Have you had to ‘suck up your pride’ and get a hearing aid? Or are you somebody who needs one but is resisting it and don’t know what to do? Share your thoughts below.