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Dementia Action Week: Expert explains the importance of hearing

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Health experts are highlighting the importance of looking after your hearing and vision to help reduce the risk of developing dementia.

Due to the similarity of their symptoms, hearing loss can, on occasions, be mistaken for early signs of dementia, particularly when someone is struggling to communicate.

However, leading research also reveals that untreated hearing loss is one of the biggest risk factors when it comes to developing dementia, and that risk increases further if you have a visual impairment too.

That is why this Dementia Action Week (May 17-23), Specsavers is highlighting the importance of regular hearing and eye tests, as part of your routine health check-ups.

Gordon Harrison, Specsavers chief audiologist, explains: ‘Leading research has shown that hearing loss can cause cognitive decline which can lead to dementia – with people with moderate to severe hearing loss up to five times more likely to develop the condition. For those who also have a visual impairment as well as hearing loss, studies show they are nearly twice as likely to develop dementia than those without, as the decline in senses could increase social isolation and place strain on the parts of the brain which are required for good cognitive function.

‘This is why regular sight and hearing tests are so important in helping to reduce the risk. The earlier any problems are identified, the sooner protective measures like hearing aids can be introduced.’

Specsavers also provides comprehensive training to ensure that in-store colleagues are equipped and confident to support any customers who may have dementia.

As part of the initiative, run by the Alzheimer’s Society, colleagues who have completed the training are recognised as Dementia Friends, with a badge to wear on their uniforms to indicate their increased level of dementia awareness.

For more information about hearing loss and dementia visit www.specsavers.co.uk/hearing/hearing-loss/understanding/dementia-and-hearing-loss

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