Report: Hearing and visual impairments linked to elevated dementia risk

Older adults with both hearing and visual impairments–or dual sensory impairment–had a significantly higher risk for dementia in a recent study published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: Diagnosis, Assessment & Disease Monitoring.

In the study of 2,051 older adults (22.8% with hearing or visual impairment and 5.1% with both impairments) who were followed over eight years, dual sensory impairment was associated with an 86% higher risk for dementia compared with having no sensory impairments. During follow-up, dementia developed in 14.3% in those with no sensory impairments, 16.9% in those with one sensory impairment, and 28.8% in those with dual sensory impairment.

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Participants with dual sensory impairment were also twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease (the most common form of dementia) than those without sensory impairments.

“Evaluation of vision and hearing in older adults may predict who will develop dementia and Alzheimer’s. This has important implications on 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,” said lead author Phillip H. Hwang, of the University of Washington.

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