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Experts convene to raise awareness of link between hearing loss and dementia

Monday 15th April 2019
BIHIMA has organised a summit between leading hearing loss experts to discuss the connection between the condition and developing dementia in later life.
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The link between hearing loss and dementia is not particularly well-known amongst the public, despite being a clear cause for concern. To try and tackle this issue, a recent summit has been held to raise awareness of the connection between the two conditions and highlight how hearing technology can work to prevent it.

The British and Irish Hearing Instrument Manufacturers Association (BIHIMA) organised the event, inviting     experts from a range of different organisations. These included Peter Kunzmann, head of research and policy at Action on Hearing Loss, as well as Dr Sergi Costafreda Gonzalez, co-author of the study ‘Dementia Prevention, Intervention and Care’ published in the Lancet.

This study found that hearing loss could be accounting for as much as 9.1 per cent of dementia cases around the world. The link between the two conditions has been proven, but is not very well-known at the moment. One of the focuses of the event was to develop strategies to raise awareness.

It is thought that devices such as hearing aids could help to mitigate these effects. Research from the University of Manchester found the rate of age-related cognitive decline falls by 75 per cent following the adoption of hearing devices. The co-author of this study, Dr Asri Maharani, was also present at the panel.

As well as raising awareness, attendees discussed how to increase funding to help with this issue. The fact there is a proven link between hearing loss and dementia shows there is a clear argument for improving access to hearing devices, particularly for older people at a higher risk of cognitive decline.

Paul Surridge, chair of BIHIMA, said: “Dementia is a condition which affects 47 million people globally and is fast becoming a social care crisis. There is no time to waste in understanding the role of hearing technology, which could stem the tide of the disease, and in educating people about looking after both their hearing and cognitive health.”

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