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Experts raise awareness of link between dementia & hearing loss

A cross-sector summit has taken place bringing together experts to discuss the connection between hearing loss as a risk factor in developing dementia.

The event was convened by the British and Irish Hearing Instrument Manufacturers Association (BIHIMA) at the Royal College of Practitioners in London.

It was attended by BIHIMA Chairman Paul Surridge, The Ear Foundation, Action on Hearing Loss and other experts from across the media and charity sectors. A series of podcasts which cover the event’s discussion have been created in order to spread greater understanding. These are available for download here.

It was a chance to share knowledge, develop strategies for raising awareness and to highlight the preventative role that hearing technology can play in regards to the risk.

There is growing evidence of the connection between the two conditions, including a Lancet study which showed that mid-life hearing loss may account for up to 9.1% of preventable dementia case worldwide and is a modifiable risk factor in developing the condition. (Livingston et al – Lancet, 2018).

There is less research, however, into the mitigating benefits of hearing aids. A University of Manchester study showed the rate of age-related cognitive decline is 75% less following the adoption of hearing devices. Co-author of this study, Dr Asri Maharani, shared details of these findings on the day. Further studies are now underway but this remains an undeveloped area, and so last month’s forum called publicly for further trials.

The panel also called on policy makers to make this area a funding priority. As new data emerges which proves the impact of hearing aids in preventing dementia, this will provide greater economic argument for making hearing technology more available to those at risk of cognitive decline.

The panel also strongly recommended a cross-sector approach, whereby hearing loss is understood as part of a wider discussion which links with both neuroscience and social issues around isolation and wellbeing in the ageing population.

For further information and to download the podcasts, visit: