Television presenter Eamonn Holmes opened up to Watford audiologist Kaneez Sham about wearing a hearing aid for the first time.
Kaneez, who is the hear care director at the Watford store, was honoured to be an audience of one when she met Eamonn earlier this month. During their meeting, they spoke about the link between hearing loss and dementia.
Glitz and glam
Kaneez was selected from many audiologists across the UK to be the Specsavers expert ambassador for its latest hearing campaign and take part in a photo-shoot with Eamonn at a glamorous location in London.
During the shoot with Kaneez, Eamonn shared how he has seen the devastating effects dementia can have – both his father and father-in-law suffered from the condition – so when he was recently informed by Specsavers that hearing loss could be an early detector for dementia he was shocked he hadn’t known sooner.
Kaneez shared with Eamonn some of the latest findings from the Alzheimer’s Society that showed people with mild hearing loss are twice as likely to develop dementia and if you have a moderate hearing loss, it rises to 3 times as likely. Someone with a severe to profound loss is five times more likely.
Eamonn told Kaneez, ‘I had absolutely no idea that hearing loss could be connected to dementia: anything that flags up a health condition such as dementia has to be taken seriously. Early intervention in so many conditions can either prevent a decline or preserve better health for longer.’
Kaneez explains, ‘It takes on average 10 years for someone to seek help for hearing loss, what many people don’t realise is that a hearing test can flag up other health conditions.’
Kaneez continues, ‘There is a growing body of research that suggests hearing loss is a risk factor for dementia.[i] The studies further highlight the importance of looking after your hearing, and one of the reasons why regular hearing tests are essential. I look forward to seeing further research on what role managing age-related hearing loss could have on our overall health.’
Eamonn was also glad to receive Kaneez’s insight and advice on how to best manage his own hearing loss. Eamonn now uses a hearing aid when required and it has drastically improved the quality of his life. ‘I no longer feel left out of simple things such as drinks in the pub or watching TV.’
He told Kaneez: ‘Without the hearing aid, I find it difficult to hear conversation in crowded surroundings such as parties and pubs. In those circumstances, it is much more difficult to pick out speech from the background noise. I shy away from social gatherings, particularly parties because there are only so many times you can say, “Pardon? What did you say?”’
His told Kaneez that his family life has also improved – it was his wife and children who noticed he had problems before he did. Eamonn says: ‘As it would with anyone, often they are the first to know and the first to express frustration. So it can lead to tetchiness.
‘I always sensed that they feel this should only be something happening to a 90-year-old. I think that’s a common perception but one which needs to be changed because this can happen to so many people so much earlier in life, as I can testify.’