Dementia and Hearing Loss

Hearing loss and dementia

In March 2012 the UK Prime Minister launched ‘Dementia Challenge’ stating, “One of the greatest challenges of our time is what I’d call the quiet crisis, one that steals lives and tears at the hearts of families…we’ve got to treat this like the national crisis it is. We need an all-out fight-back against this disease; one that cuts across society.”

Why hearing loss?

What does this have to do with hearing loss? Studies have clearly indicated a link between hearing loss and dementia. In fact people with severe hearing loss are four times more likely to be affected by dementia. Although it is not clear exactly how this link works we can be sure of some of the consequences and make sensible suggestions about our response.

Diagnosing and managing conditions such as hearing loss becomes easier and less costly when patients are more able to access services, communicate with professionals, and benefit from interventions. The fact that hearing loss and dementia often occur together, and are particularly difficult to manage when they are experienced together, means that large benefits would be gained from identifying hearing loss early on. This would help people find support to adapt before the onset or progression of dementia. A recent joint report between Action on Hearing Loss and the Deafness Cognition and Language Research Centre estimated that £28 million could be saved in delayed entry to care homes in England if hearing loss was properly diagnosed and managed in people with dementia.

Hearing Screening & dementiaCurrently people over 60 years of age in identified at-risk groups are screened for dementia. The list of at-risk patients includes all those over 60 with cardiovascular disease or diabetes, as well as patients with learning difficulties or a neurological condition. However, despite the clear links with hearing loss, this is not considered.

 

What is Signal doing?

Signal has been working closely with the Alzheimer’s Society and The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust’s Audiology Department to raise awareness about dementia and the importance of treating hearing loss early.

Together with sponsors – the Police and Crime Commissioner West Mercia and Safer Telford and Wrekin – we have put together an information leaflet which is being distributed across Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin and more widely, as this is thought to be the only leaflet of its kind in the UK.

Leaflet snip

 

Please take a look here: Signal Dementia Leaflet

Signal wants to encourage as many people as possible to get their hearing checked. Free hearing screening is available at Signal: The Hub with absolutely no obligation. The screening will give a clear indication of whether there is something that should be investigated further, and our friendly staff and volunteers can take the time to talk you through the options. The Hub in Shrewsbury is open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm and everyone is welcome to pop in and ask about hearing screening for themselves or a family member. We would love to see you there.

 

References

UK Prime Minister David Cameron speaking at the Alzheimer’s Society Conference, March 2012

Action on Hearing Loss ‘Hearing Matters’ 2011

Lin, F.R. et al. ‘Hearing Loss and Incident Dementia’ Archives of Neurology 2011, 68(2), 214-220

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