Hearing and vision loss INCREASES odds of dementia

Dementia is a collective term that is used to describe many different symptoms of cognitive failure or declines like impairment in memory, communication, and thinking. However, forgetfulness is one of the most highlighted and known features of dementia. Dementia is not a normal part of aging but, the likelihood of suffering from dementia increases as the age increases. According to the 2010 census, around 4.7 million people aged 65 years or above in the United States of America alone, were suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. These numbers have been raised by now. 

The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that,

“Just over a tenth of people aged 65 years or more have Alzheimer’s disease. This proportion rises to about a third of people aged 85 years and older. Alzheimer’s accounts for 60-80 percent of all cases of dementia.”

In addition to this, the Alzheimer’s Association also estimates that,

“There are 47.5 million dementia sufferers worldwide and one new case of dementia is diagnosed every 4 seconds.”

Recently, new research studies are being carried out to understand dementia and Alzheimer’s. One such study revealed that visual impairment and hearing loss might increase the odds of dementia. Previous studies showed that having one of the impairments, either visual or hearing, increased the risk of dementia. But recent studies reveal that the possibility of developing dementia in an individual becomes significantly high if both hearing and visual impairments are present. The risk of developing dementia increases by 86% in such individuals. 

A recent research study titled, ‘Dual sensory impairment in older adults and risk of dementia from GEM study’ by lead author Philip H. Hwang from the University of Washington states that,

“Evaluation of vision and hearing in older adults may predict who will develop dementia and Alzheimer’s. This has important implications for identifying potential participants in prevention trials for Alzheimer’s disease, as well as, whether treatments for vision and hearing loss can modify risk for dementia.”

The research study implies that as the age of the person increases, his condition worsens. This correlation between the advancement of these conditions and the loss of a patient’s functionality and mortality explains the higher chances of developing dementia. Data collected throughout research revealed that people with a dual sensory impairment are 112% more likely to develop dementia or Alzheimer’s related dementia than those without any impairment.

The authors of the research paper further conclude that,

“Further research is needed to characterize the exact role of sensory impairments and whether treatments that improve sensory function, such as surgery or sensory aids, devices, and prostheses can modify this risk.”

They also state that,

“Because the public health burden of dementia will increase over the next three decades, evaluation of vision and hearing function in older adults may help identify patients at elevated risk of developing dementia.”

More data should be collected and researches should be carried out for this matter to understand the relation of dual sensory impairment and dementia. The study may take quite some time but, the results gained will be very beneficial in the field of medicine.

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