New report reveals importance of early intervention on hearing loss

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A new white paper commissioned by the Hearing Care Industry Association has revealed the positive impact of early intervention on hearing care on the prevention of dementia.

The white paper, which is based on 90 peer-reviewed publications, has been authorised by Mark Laureyns. Mr Laureyns is the current co-chair of the World Hearing Forum 'Make Listening Safe Workgroup' that is an initiative of the World Health Organisation.

The white paper has the aim of drawing the attention of policymakers to the urgency in addressing age-related hearing loss as a way to avoid much greater healthcare burdens, particularly dementia.

Dementia is the second leading cause of death in Australia and the leading cause of death among women. Over 470,00 Australians live with dementia and this number is expected to pass one million by the late 2050s.

The white paper highlights the scientific link between hearing loss and cognitive decline, and the positive impact on the diagnosis of early intervention through access to hearing aids and appropriate services.

It says the research shows unaddressed hearing loss was identified as responsible for more dementia among older adults than other risk factors, including alcohol overconsumption, traumatic brain injury, obesity and hypertension combined.

"Deferring hearing care treatment until well into old age is often too late," says the white paper.

"The cognitive decline and deficit are often well established, and they result in greater difficulties for an aged person to effectively and confidently adapt physically and psychologically to any hearing care support.

"An aged care resident with a hearing aid languishing in a draw is a travesty and sadly, a common occurrence," it says.

It recommends the development and adoption of a preventative hearing health strategy to address the link between age-related hearing loss and dementia.

It says the benefit of reducing the symptoms of dementia is thirty times greater than the total cost of hearing aids.