September 21st celebrates World Alzheimer’s Day and this year the focus is on the stigma around dementia and breaking the stereotypes and myths that surround a dementia diagnosis. It is an international campaign that helps to raise awareness and highlight issues faced by people affected by dementia.
The Links between dementia and hearing loss are well documented and stigma features in both conditions. It is often a key barrier that prevents people from seeking help and typically people struggle on with poor hearing for 7-10 years before they address the issue. Untreated hearing loss is an identifiable risk factor for dementia so it important to address the issue early and to seek professional help. The Lancet recently issued a useful infographic to demonstrate the modifiable behaviours and factors that are identified in dementia. Click here to see more.
Dementia is one of the biggest health challenges we face as there are nearly 50million people worldwide living with the condition. It is commonly believed to be a condition of old age and generally people are not aware of early-onset dementia which can affect anyone. It affects all aspects of life and impacts on those around you. (www.alzheimers.org.uk).
With better understanding and patience we can all help those living with dementia to retain their independence for as long as possible. The same applies to those living with hearing loss and simple changes to attitude can make a huge difference in daily life. As we move out of the Covid-19 lockdown back to a new way of approaching life perhaps we can capture some of the kindness and understanding that was evident during lockdown and carry this forward.
If you are concerned about someone in your life who may be showing some signs of early dementia we urge you to get their hearing checked as a first step as an unacknowledged hearing loss may well have very similar symptoms. Some of the shared symptoms are listed below:
- Asking for the same information over and over again.
- Loss of confidence
- Lack of concentration
- Trouble joining in the conversation
- Gradually relying more and more on others to organise you
- Decreased or poor judgement
- Withdrawal from work or social activities
Hearing loss can also cause frustration, confusion, mood changes and communication problems, and the right hearing device and support can alleviate some of these.