Hearing Loss and Risk of Mild Cognitive Impairment and Dementia

Heywood R. et al. (2017) Dementia & Geriatric Cognitive Disorders. 43(5-6) pp. 259-268

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Image source: mike krzeszak – Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0

Aim: To investigate the associations between hearing loss and prevalent and incident mild cognitive impairment (MCI), dementia and MCI or dementia (all cases).

Conclusions: Hearing loss is independently associated with prevalent dementia and incident MCI or dementia

Read the full abstract here

Hearing loss and dementia

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has published Dementia friendly communities: supporting learning and outreach with the deaf community.  This report aims to inform the development of policy and practice in relation to dementia awareness and information models in the Deaf community and with people with hearing loss. These approaches challenge misconceptions and provide signposting for appropriate information and support. The report considers and provides next steps on best practice models based on a pilot project with Alzheimer’s Society and BDA.

Improved hearing could delay mild dementia

Audiology World News Preliminary findings of a new study on dementia have found that correction of hearing loss with hearing aids may delay the onset of mild dementia.

Earlier studies have shown that people with hearing impairment are significantly more likely to develop dementia in old age compared to those with normal hearing. There is however no evidence to date that correcting hearing can effectively improve dementia. Previous research has also demonstrated a reduction in cognitive decline among study participants who use hearing aids.

This was what motivated researchers from the University of North Texas (USA) to partner with audiologists from Unitron to conduct the study aimed at assessing the possible relationship between improved hearing and cognitive function in patients with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. The study called ‘Hearing Aids and Dementia’ enrolled adults aged 50 to 90 years with mild dementia who were inexperienced with hearing amplification devices. It measures speech-recognition performance in noise, cognition, and self-reported improvement in quality of life.

If the preliminary positive findings are confirmed, they could have significant implications for aging individuals as they begin experiencing hearing loss. Study completion is expected in late 2015