Untreated Hearing loss and Dementia
Ear Science’s Researcher, Dr Dona Jayakody is part of a research team that has contributed to the increasing body of evidence on the link between hearing loss and dementia. The Australian Cognition and Hearing Loss Project Team now aims to determine if wearing hearing aids can prevent, or delay, the onset of dementia in senior citizens.
Can you imagine a hearing test that also detects early risk signs of dementia? Or a hearing device that tells the user to practice wearing it so their brain can get used to the new amplified sound?
These are just some of the areas our Brain & Hearing program will focus on, right here in Western Australia.
We are the only self-sustaining not for profit research institute, that has successfully integrated industry leading clinical care and research.
Our research has demonstrated that there is an association between untreated hearing loss and the increased risk of dementia and mental distress. We are now translating our research into potential treatments to reduce the risk of dementia to minimise health decline in our rapidly ageing population. With the recent release of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Service, now more than ever, we need to support our community to age with grace and ensure the humane care of our elders.
We bought together one of the world’s largest hearing device manufacturers, with a world leading university and a medical research institute in a collaboration. All working together on early treatment for hearing loss, aiming to slow down dementia, and developing new interventions to improve the lives of those with hearing loss.
Untreated hearing loss can make everyday life challenging.
More than two‐thirds of older adults above 70 years suffer from age‐related hearing loss.
Recent studies have reported an association between impaired hearing and cognitive impairment and dementia and mental ill‐health.
Our latest published research findings add to the growing body of evidence that untreated hearing loss looks to be the easiest modifiable target to prevent developing dementia.
With one in six Australians with some degree of hearing loss, Ear Science Institute Australia urges adults of all ages to check their hearing to potentially reduce the devastating impact of dementia.
Brain & Hearing Research
Untreated hearing impairment looks to be the easiest modifiable target to prevent developing dementia.
- We found that treating hearing loss with cochlear implants could improve cognitive functions.
- We are investigating whether we can reduce the risk of dementia by treating the hearing loss with hearing aids.
- We are investigating if we can reverse the changes in the brain due to hearing loss by using hearing aids.
- We are investigating whether we can reduce the economic burden due to hearing loss and dementia by treating hearing loss.
What are the key risk factors for Dementia?
According to the updated Dementia Prevention, Intervention, and Care: 2020 Report of the Lancet Commission, these are a number of key risk factors for dementia:
- Hearing loss in midlife
- Less education in early life
- Traumatic brain injury
- High blood pressure
- Alcohol (moderate to high weekly use)
- Social isolation
- Physical inactivity
- Air pollution
By making lifestyle changes and modifying these risk factors we could delay or prevent up to 40% of dementia cases.
Hearing loss closely linked to dementia and the potential devastating loss of Australian indigenous culture
World leading research into the link between hearing loss and dementia, undertaken by Dr Dona Jayakody, Senior Research Audiologist and her team at Ear Science Institute Australia.
In collaboration with:
- Prof Leon Flicker at WA Centre for Healthy Aging (UWA)
- Prof Dawn Bessarab Centre for Aboriginal Medical and Dental Health (UWA)
- Dr Kate Smith at the Centre for Aboriginal Medical and Dental Health (UWA) and
- Hearing Australia
The research has led to a Fellowship Award and the further study of the impact of untreated hearing loss on Dementia and Psychosocial well-being of Aboriginal older adults.
Listen to the Interview with Professor Marcus Atlas and The West Live
Recent studies suggested that hearing loss may be a potentially modifiable risk factor associated with frailty
Rong Tian, PHD Student has found that the untreated hearing loss was associated with an 87% increase in the risk of frailty among cross-sectional studies and 56% among longitudinal studies.
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