20Q: Hearing Loss and Dementia - Association, Link or Causation?

August 8, 2017

You’ve probably noticed that there has been a lot of talk about dementia in recent years, and more and more news items related to dementia and hearing loss.  Many audiologists have picked up on this, especially the notion that hearing aid use might delay, or even prevent, dementia.  There is even a new training program designed for licensed audiologists and hearing instrument specialists from the American Brain Council, where you can become a “Certified Dementia Prevention Specialist.”   

We do know that the use of hearing aids increases activity, communication and socialization, which can be related to cognition, which often is related to dementia.  So is all this just an association, or is there a causal link?  This is important stuff, and we really need reasoned thinking.  And we have just the person to do that—this month’s 20Q guest author.

Piers Dawes is a senior lecturer in audiology at the University of Manchester. He is a developmental neuropsychologist with a PhD in experimental psychology from the University of Oxford. You are probably familiar with his many publications related to the epidemiology of hearing loss, dementia, hearing genetics, treatments for hearing loss including hearing aid uptake and hearing aid benefit, and the impact of hearing impairment on development and quality of life.  He was a 2013-2014 US-UK Fulbright scholar, and was awarded the British Society of Audiology's Thomas Simm Littler Prize in 2014 for work on the epidemiology of hearing loss and acclimatization to hearing aids.

Piers is ideally suited to address this month’s 20Q topic, as he is the founding chair of the British Society of Audiology's special interest group for cognition in hearing. He also is the co-lead of ‘Ears, Eyes and Mind: The ‘SENSE-Cog Project’ to improve mental well-being for elderly Europeans with sensory impairment’, a European Commission-funded Horizon 2020 project.

Given that Piers is from the UK, he may not have the latest data on margarine consumption and Maine divorces, but he is an expert on associations and links, and how they relate to hearing loss and dementia.  You’ll enjoy his thought-out explanation in this installment of 20Q.  

 

Gus Mueller, PhD
Contributing Editor
January 2017

 

Browse the complete collection of 20Q with Gus Mueller CEU articles at www.audiologyonline.com/20Q

 

 

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