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Hearing loss associated with risk of dementia

Posted: 18th July 2016 DeafHear Hearing loss associated with risk of dementia

Researchers in the US have found that older people with hearing loss are at higher risk of developing dementia compared to hearing peers.

The key findings were that those with mild hearing loss had almost double the rate of dementia compared to hearing peers, those with moderate hearing loss had three times the rate, while those with severe hearing loss had five times the rate of dementia compared to their hearing peers.

The research was part of the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Ageing, and included 639 participants aged 36 to 90 years. The participants were followed up over a 12 year period, during which 58 of them were diagnosed with dementia.

The researchers concluded that hearing loss was independently associated with dementia after controlling for gender, race, age, education, diabetes, smoking and hypertension. They found that the risk of dementia increased log linearly with the severity of hearing loss, and for those aged over 60 in the study sample, more than one third of the risk for dementia was associated with hearing loss.

Hearing Aids can help.

Brendan Lennon, DeafHear’s Head of Advocacy says that while the findings of this study are shocking, since they were published in 2011 there has been a number of studies which have shown that hearing aids can help. “While we still don’t have an explanation as to why hearing loss and cognitive decline are linked, a number of studies in the last couple of years have suggested that people who have hearing aids fitted have improved cognitive performance” he said. Social isolation is one factor associated with dementia and cognitive decline, so it may be that those people who have hearing aids benefit from being more socially connected.

One recent study of two groups of people with hearing loss reported that people with hearing aids scored higher on cognitive tests than those without hearing aids, even though the hearing aid group had an average 15dB worse hearing loss.

Lennon says that people wait an average of ten years before seeking help with their hearing loss. “Our Mind Your Hearing campaign is aimed at encouraging people to get their hearing tested earlier, and if necessary, to get hearing aids fitted. The earlier people get hearing aids, the more benefit they will get” he adds.


Useful resources:

Management of Hearing Loss can help reduce Dementia
Posted: July 2017 Management of Hearing Loss can help reduce Dementia

Hearing Aids improve cognitive performance
Posted: March 2015 Hearing Aids improve cognitive performance

If you think you may have a hearing loss,
consider getting a hearing test as soon as possible!

For more information, visit




Concerned About Hearing Loss Leaflet

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A Guide To Buying Hearing Aids

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Hearing aids can help improve brain health:
Posted: November 2015

A French study has confirmed for the first time that using hearing aids slows down the rate of cognitive decline for people with hearing loss. Cognitve decline includes things like memory and concentration. [Read On] Smoking increases risk of hearing loss.

Hearing aids may improve cognitive performance:
Posted: May 2016

New research to be published soon in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry has found that participants who wore hearing aids performed better on cognitive tests than participants with hearing loss who did not use hearing aids. [Read On] Work can be more stressful and tiring.

Hearing aids could help reduce dementia:
Posted: February 2016

Professor Frank Lin is a world expert on hearing loss and cognitive decline, and he is Professor of geriatric medicine and otolaryngology at the John Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore. [Read On] Hearing aids could help reduce dementia.


Media Contacts will provide spokespersons to comment on issues relevant to Deaf and Hard of Hearing people on request.

To contact Brendan Lennon; Head of Information and Policy, click here...

Source: Lin.,F.R. et al. Hearing Loss and Incident Dementia. Archives of Neurology, Vol 68, No 2, 2011.




more...Hearing loss costs an estimated €2.2bn every year in Ireland.


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