BIHIMA hosted a round table event that considered the link between hearing loss and dementia, at the Royal College of General Practitioners in London, on 28 February 2018. The summit brought together an exclusive group of experts in the field to host a meaningful discussion on how to tackle this issue.

The attendees each presented a 15-minute overview of their work in this area, which was followed by a Q&A discussion that tackled three key questions:

  1. 1. How do we educate the public better on the link between hearing loss and dementia?
  2. 2. If hearing loss is a modifiable risk of early onset dementia, what is the solution?
  3. 3. What research is needed to demonstrate the value of hearing aids to this issue?

The round table event was recorded as a series of podcasts (audio recordings of each presentation alongside their presentation slides), which can be downloaded via the links below.

Audio Recordings

Paul Surridge, BIHIMA Chairman – Download podcast here

Dr Helene Amieva, PhD, Author of: ‘Death, Depression, Disability, and Dementia Associated with Self-reported Hearing Problems: A 25-Year Study’, Inserm, University of Bordeaux – Download podcast here

Dr Sergi Costafreda Gonzalez, Co-author of the Study: ‘Dementia prevention, intervention and care, Lancet’, University College London – Download podcast here

Tony Gunnell, Audiologist – Download podcast here

Peter Kunzmann, Head of Research and Policy, Action on Hearing Loss – Download podcast here

Brian Lamb, Associate of The Ear Foundation and Chair of the Hearing Loss and Deafness Alliance and the Action Group on Adult Cochlear Implantation – Downlaod podcast here

Dr Asri Maharani, Co-author of the Study: ‘Longitudinal Relationship Between Hearing Aid Use and Cognitive Function in Older Americans’, University of Manchester – Download podcast here

Roundtable Q&A Discussion – Download podcast here


Why did BIHIMA host this event?

Over recent years we have seen an increasing body of evidence which demonstrates the connection between hearing loss and dementia, a condition which affects 47 million people globally, a figure projected to triple by 2050.

Last year, a study published in the Lancet showed that mid-life hearing loss may account for up to 9.1% of preventable dementia cases worldwide and is a modifiable risk factor in developing the condition (Livingston et al – Lancet, 2018). Professor Helen Amieva’s study in 2015 found an increased risk of disability and dementia in those with hearing loss, however these negative associations were not found in the participants using hearing aids. A recent study showed that the rate of measured age-related cognitive decline is 75% less following the adoption of hearing devices (Dawes & Maharani, University of Manchester, 2018).

All three of these studies were represented by individuals at the round table, which BIHIMA hopes provided a forum to progress our understanding of this vitally important subject. We are advocating a preventative approach which understands that hearing loss is a priority in the management of those at risk of cognitive impairment. We are also making a public call for more research to verify the role that hearing technology can play and identify what more needs to be done to bridge the knowledge gap on the subject.