Hearing loss, dementia and music

How dementia and hearing loss can be linked

Most people with dementia are over 70 and nearly three quarters of people over 70 have hearing loss. There is growing evidence that this can be a factor in the onset of dementia.

Hearing loss can be misdiagnosed as dementia or make the symptoms of dementia appear worse.

Unaddressed mid-life hearing loss is identified as the number one potentially modifiable risk factor in dementia prevention, as revealed in blog by NHS England’s National Clinical Director for Dementia, Alistair Burns.

Both highlight the strong evidence that mild hearing loss doubles the risk of developing dementia, moderate hearing loss increases the risk three-fold, and severe hearing loss increases it this risk by five times.

In February 2021, new research from the University of Ulster showed that people with a mild cognitive impairment (MCI) using hearing aids were at significantly lower risk of developing all-cause dementia compared to those not using hearing aids.

Why it is important to have the correct diagnosis

A hearing test and wearing hearing aids (where advised) is highly recommended to help reduce the risk of dementia and its impact.

Proper diagnosis and management of hearing loss can also reduce other issues, such as falls and depression.

If you are worried about hearing loss and the possible risk of developing dementia, speak to your GP who will refer you to an audiologist or ENT Consultant for hearing difficulties.

More information on hearing loss and dementia can be found at Guidance for residential care homes.

Download our advice for musicians on hearing loss prevention.

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