In recent years, increasing evidence has suggested a link between dementia and hearing loss. There is strong evidence that mild hearing loss doubles the risk of a person developing dementia, with moderate hearing loss leading to three times the risk, and severe hearing loss five times the risk. Hearing loss can be misdiagnosed as dementia, or make the symptoms of dementia appear worse.
People with dementia may have difficulty communicating with others, or have difficulty in processing what they hear, particularly if there are distractions, such as background noise. This difficulty in processing information (when there is competing information, whether auditory or otherwise) may be one of the first signs of cognitive impairment. Further evidence shows an association between hearing loss and decline in memory skills.
More research is therefore needed to clarify whether proper diagnosis and management of hearing loss, including provision of hearing aids, may reduce the risk and impact of dementia.
In addition, little is understood about the link between dementia and hearing loss, and the processes underlying both conditions. It is therefore important to investigate these processes in more detail, to determine how the conditions are linked, whether via common pathological processes, by common functions or both, and how they impact upon each other. This will be important in developing interventions that can delay or prevent the progression of both dementia and hearing loss. We request research projects in the following areas:
Research to understand the links between dementia and hearing loss – Original research that will:
- identify common biological mechanisms that underlie dementia and hearing loss, and how they lead to both conditions
- advance our knowledge of any causal link between hearing loss and dementia
- lead to the development of interventions that can delay or prevent the progression of both conditions, or prevent one condition from exacerbating the other
Projects submitted will be considered for joint funding between RNID and Alzheimer’s Research UK.
Further information on the RNID Website
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