By Shay Moser
Exercise. Eat healthfully. Don’t smoke. Manage health issues such as diabetes. Most people know these habits are important for a healthy lifestyle to reduce the risk of dementia. Yet, many are unaware of the number one preventive health measure to prevent dementia.
“Treating hearing loss is eight times more important than reducing obesity and diabetes and four times as important as physical exercise to reduce the risk of dementia,” says Dr. Keith Darrow, the only Harvard Medical and M.I.T.-trained neuroscientist focused on private practice audiology. He’ll be giving away his latest book, “Preventing Decline,” and sharing the importance of medically treating hearing loss at a free, one-hour community symposium in Paradise Valley on Thurs., Nov. 3.
Dr. Darrow is best known for his work as a neuroscientist and audiologist, but today his mission is educating people on how to improve cognitive health, wellness, and the ability to actively age through medical treatment of hearing loss and tinnitus. He does this as an author and the director and founder of the Hearing and Brain Centers of America and the Excellence in Audiology network of offices throughout the U.S.
Preventing the Decline Associated with Unchecked Hearing Loss
In Dr. Darrow’s latest book, “Preventing Decline,” he outlines the scientific evidence that treating hearing loss is more effective at reducing the risk of dementia than increasing physical exercise, reducing alcohol consumption, and preventing obesity, diabetes, and heart disease combined.
“Four in 10 cases of dementia are now considered preventable,” says Dr. Darrow. “My grandmother died of dementia, and I have a 75-year-old aunt who was recently diagnosed with dementia. Unfortunately, there’s no cure. But given what we now know, that 40% of cases of dementia are considered preventable, and we understand 12 things that can help people reduce their risk, it’s our job to educate the public.”
Highest-Rated Hearing Loss and Tinnitus Treatment
As part of the Hearing and Brain Centers of America national expansion to treat more of the 42 million Americans in need of hearing loss and tinnitus treatment, a Paradise Valley location recently opened.
Every day, patients at the Hearing and Brain Center of America in Paradise Valley benefit from Dr. Darrow’s comprehensive programs for preventing decline through the medical treatment of hearing loss and tinnitus.
Patients see a team of experienced doctors and specialists who provide personalized hearing care plans based on their needs, lifestyle, and budget. The center offers several cutting-edge treatment options, which patients learn about at their initial complimentary treatment consultation. Plus, all treatments offer a lifetime satisfaction guarantee. And soon, Scottsdale residents will have a center nearby where they can get same-day treatments, too.
“When it comes to treating hearing loss, the general public thinks they’re buying hearing aids,” says Dr. Darrow. “We offer a completely new and simple approach at the Hearing and Brain Centers. The medical treatment of hearing loss and tinnitus is not a hearing aid. Instead, we’ve identified the most important aspects of treatment that improve hearing in all situations, reduces the ringing in your ears, and helps you prevent cognitive decline and dementia.”
How Often Should You Get Your Hearing Checked?
While we get an annual health check-up, visit the dentist every six months, and even get the oil changed in our cars every 3,000 miles, regular hearing evaluations elude us.
Dr. Darrow says the easy rule of thumb to remember is “ears and rears,” suggesting that when you turn 50 is when we should all have our first hearing test.
It’s difficult to notice the initial signs of hearing loss without a hearing evaluation, says Dr. Darrow. But it’s more likely to affect life as we grow older because noise damage starts to add up, leading to loneliness, isolation, depression, and more.
“It creates a strain on relationships as it chips away at your ability to communicate,” says Dr. Darrow. “Once you hit your 50s and early 60s, background noise gets in the way, and people start opting out of social activities, which is why hearing loss and social isolation are so closely tied together. Social isolation is a major risk factor for dementia.
“If we treat hearing loss, we know you’ll be more socially active, which reduces your risk of dementia,” continues Dr. Darrow. “We know that you will increase your physical exercise, which reduces your risk. Of all the things you can do when you treat your hearing loss, you’re potentially mitigating your risk of dementia by 45%. There’s a cumulative effect of living a more active and healthier lifestyle.”
A Listening Ear for Local Doctors
Many primary care physicians are starting to understand the connections between hearing loss and dementia, according to Dr. Darrow. So, they’re incorporating a question about hearing loss in medical evaluations.
“Our goal ultimately is not only to educate the community but to educate local physicians,” Dr. Darrow says. “But we don’t want to give them more work. We’re a great resource to help their patients.”
Doctors who have patients that may have hearing loss or are between 60 and 70 years old, can refer them to the Hearing and Brain Centers of America for cognitive screening.
“There are a lot of people who can benefit from the Hearing and Brain Centers, not only people in the community but also local physicians.”
Learn more about the importance of medically treating hearing loss at the free, one-hour community symposium in Paradise Valley on Thurs., Nov. 3. Visit hearinganddementia.com or call 602-641-4179. You can learn more about Dr. Darrow at drkeithdarrow.com.
This content is sponsored by Hearing and Brain Centers of America.