As an organisation, BIHIMA is committed to greater understanding of the link between hearing loss and dementia, and to spreading public awareness about the potential risks and solutions. Our belief is that much more research is urgently needed into the preventative role of hearing devices, as well as much more engagement from policy makers, so that we can start tackling the huge societal issue of dementia using the hearing technology we believe could be a vital part of the solution.

We have drawn attention to several important pieces of research over the past year, including a 25-year study published earlier this year by Professor Helene Amieva at the University of Bordeaux, and a Lancet study showing that hearing loss is the greatest of nine modifiable risk factors that contribute to the risk of dementia. Here is information about a further piece of research in an article published by hear-it.org. The link to the original article can be found here.

A study among nearly 38,000 older Australian men has found a 69% increased risk of dementia for those who report having a hearing loss.

The study confirms earlier findings. Earlier this year, a large French scientific study found, that people who said that they had hearing loss and did not use hearing devices had a significantly higher risk of developing dementia than people who had normal hearing or had a hearing loss and used hearing aids. Several other studies have also found a connection between hearing loss and dementia.

69% increased risk of dementia

Now a large Australian study has also found that there is a strong connection between hearing loss and dementia. A study among nearly 38,000 older Australian men found a 69% increased risk of dementia for those who report having a hearing loss.

The Australian study consisted of two parts: firstly, a longitudinal study, the “Health in Men Study (HIMS)” which was carried out among 37,898 older Australian men living in the metropolitan region of Perth, Western Australia, who were followed for 25 years. Secondly, a systematic review and meta-analysis of relevant prospective studies investigated the association between hearing loss and incidental dementia.

The study found a significant association between hearing loss and incidental dementia in the study of older men. The risk of dementia increased by 69% in men with self-reported hearing impairment compared to those with normal hearing once age and medical conditions common in later life were taken into account.

Findings in earlier studies

In the meta-analysis in 14 earlier studies, the researchers found an average increased risk of dementia of 49% for persons with a hearing loss.

The study “Hearing loss and the risk of dementia in later life” was published in the Journal Maturitas in March 2018 and can be accessed here.