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Chicken or the Egg?

I’m glad to see that the topic of hearing loss is getting more coverage by the media.  A recent article in the NY Times, “Personal Health: Lifelines for People With Hearing Loss” does a nice job of covering several aspects of hearing loss.  However, I disagree with the statement about hearing aids that, “…the devices themselves are not an adequate solution.”  I think they are a very important first step!!  Good hearing aids with t-coils can connect people with assisted listening devices and keep them socially active and intellectually stimulated.  The fact that only 15% of those with hearing loss wear hearing aids is alarming.  We need hearing aids to be more affordable and health insurance to cover them so more people will wear them!

The article mentions the study at Johns Hopkins conducted by Dr. Frank Lin on “Hearing Loss and Incident Dementia.” This study found a connection between hearing loss and dementia, however, we must ask, “Which came first…the hearing loss or the dementia?”  Were the people with hearing loss staying active and using devices to help them hear?  Or were they withdrawing from society?  The study concludes that further research needs to be done to determine whether hearing loss is a marker for early-stage dementia OR is actually a modifiable risk factor for dementia.

Meanwhile, rather than wait for the next study, I’m betting it is a “modifiable risk factor.”  I’d suggest treating your hearing loss as early as possible.  Don’t wait until you find that you have isolated yourself and withdrawn from activities. Get a good hearing aid with a t-coil, (see:  “Hearing Aid Features“), join HLAA, and use assisted listening devices as needed!


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