It is time to change our message about hearing loss and dementia

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A commentary piece from the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society

Over the past five years, members of the scientific community, the media, and commercial interests have spread the message that hearing loss is a risk factor for dementia. While true under the strict epidemiologic definition of “risk,” current science is unsettled as to nature of the hearing loss–dementia link. Yet, the lay public is prone to receive the message as a warning that hearing loss is a
harbinger of dementia. It is time to reconsider our message. This is not just because “risk” is so poorly understood or because the evidence is unsettled. It is also because the message has such potential to stigmatize and raise anxieties for people with hearing loss.

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