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Study Proves Older Adults Need Help with Hearing Loss

Older adults often choose not to seek treatment for hearing loss, but ignoring the problem can have a huge impact on their quality of life – and increases their risk of dementia.

The statistics are shocking, say two University of Toronto medical experts: At least one in four adults over the age of 50 experience hearing problems, but it takes an average of 10 years before they seek treatment.

Writing in this week’s edition of Doctors’ Notes, the Toronto Star’s weekly column created by medical experts from the University of Toronto, Marilyn Reed and Dr. Claude Alain cite an international study by the Lancet Commission on dementia treatment that found untreated mid-life hearing loss increases a person’s dementia risk by 9 percent.

 Reed is an instructor with the U of T's department of speech-language pathology in the Faculty of Medicine, and  Alain is an associate professor at U of T's Institute of Medical Science and the department of psychology. Both are affiliated with Baycrest Health Sciences: Reed as a practice adviser with the audiology department and Alain, a senior scientist at Baycrest’s Rotman Research Institute.

The two write about the signs of hearing losses, and what help is available. They also point out that hearing problems can be masked as memory issues since they display similar symptoms, such as continually having to ask someone to repeat information.

Help is available to boost a person’s ability to hear – and they offer tips on how to help yourself at any age.

First on that list: Turn down the volume, especially when wearing headphones.