Sarah Bauermeister

Associate Professor, Oxford University

Sarah Bauermeister is a cognitive neuropsychologist and epidemiologist. She manages scientific research for Dementias Platform UK and is Principal Investigator for ‘Blossom Early Adversity & Brain Health Programme’ and ‘Modify: Modifying Dementia Risk Through Lifestyle Programme’. She has a keen interest in raising awareness around the link between dementia, hearing loss and hearing aid use. She is passionate about removing the stigma of hearing tests and wearing hearing aids.

Ruchi Sharma

Audiologist
Ruchi

Ruchi Sharma is an experienced hearing audiologist helping individuals improve, fine tune and rehabilitate their hearing needs. Her patients' needs are always a priority where she focuses on improving their overall lifestyle and quality of life. A typical day can be working in care homes, doing home visits, working in hearing clinics and even visiting hearing aid patients in opticians! She has two beautiful children and loves to travel, yoga, and spend time with family outdoors.

Frazer Paterson

Director & Clinical Audiologist (bsc, pgdip, hcpc, mshaa)

Frazer, a degree trained audiologist has extensive and varied experience in the world of Audiology. With two spells in the NHS he was held to the highest clinical standards in the diagnosis and treatment of hearing loss. His experience working for one of the world’s leading hearing aid manufacturers has exposed him to the latest hearing aid technology and how to maximise its potential. Frazer is passionate that hearing loss should not be a barrier to employment, limit a person’s ability to communicate with friends and family or curtail any aspect of their life.

Adam Bostock

Founder, Alto Hearing and Tinnitus Specialists

Adam Bostock founded ‘Alto Hearing and Tinnitus Specialists’ following a career in the audiology sector which began in 2005. He has extensive experience working in NHS ENT clinics, alongside both adult and paediatric audiology. Most recently Adam was ‘Head of Commerical’ at Boots HearingCare. He worked as a regional manager and director of sales, leading a large team of audiologists and hearing care assistants. 

Michelle Hu

Paediatric Audiologist

Dr. Michelle Hu is a paediatric audiologist. She was diagnosed with mild hearing loss as a toddler and by the age of 10 had profound sensorineural hearing loss bilaterally and was fitted with hearing aids. Alongside her day job as a paediatric audiologist, she provides online courses that provide support and guidance for parents of children with hearing loss. She loves being with her family, experimenting in the kitchen, gardening and exploring new places.

Carly Sygrove

Hearing Loss Coach

Carly Sygrove is a Hearing Loss Coach and a hearing health advocate who has single-sided deafness. She blogs about living with hearing loss at My Hearing Loss Story and manages the My Hearing Loss Story online support group for people with hearing loss. She is also the founder of the Sudden Hearing Loss Support website, a source of information and support for people affected by sudden hearing loss.   

Iain n Edgar

Director & Clinical Audiologist (ba pgdip hcpc mshaa rccp)

Iain studied for his postgraduate diploma in Audiology at Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh. He has 8 years of experience as an NHS audiologist. For the past 5 years, alongside ENT and Hearing Aid clinics, he has taken tinnitus clinics and been involved in the Scottish Tinnitus Advisory Group. In addition to his NHS work, Iain has recently opened a private clinic in his local community of Clarkston, where he is eager to make a small but meaningful difference in improving people’s quality of life.

Mr Joseph Manjaly

Consultant Otologist, Hearing Implant & ENT Surgeon

Joseph Manjaly is a Consultant Otologist, Auditory Implant & ENT Surgeon, specialising in ear and hearing problems for adults and children. He is fellowship-trained in otology and auditory implant surgery and takes pride in effectively treating patients with hearing loss, ear discharge, discomfort, tinnitus and dizziness. He has a busy NHS practice at the renowned Royal National ENT Hospital in Central London, part of University College Hospitals NHS Trust.

Peter Lucas-Herald

Clinical Audiologist (msc bsc (hons) rccp hcpc)

Peter has a strong academic background, first graduating with a biology degree from Edinburgh University before moving on to study audiology at Queen Margaret University. He then completed a master’s degree in audiology, researching vestibular testing methodology.

Peter has been working as a clinical audiologist within the NHS, taking a particular interest in vestibular assessment and reassessment. Balance problems can be incredibly debilitating and Peter has a passion to work with these clients to regain their confidence and help them return to a normal life.

Miriam Warcup

Co Founder (BA MSc MSc)
Pink

Miriam undertook a Master's at Kings College London in 2020 in 'Gerontology and Ageing'. It was here that she specialised in 'Dementia Prevention' for her thesis, where she learnt of the little known fact, that untreated hearing loss is the biggest risk factor for dementia that we can do something about. Miriam's thesis was later published in the journal of 'Working with Older People'.

Since then, she has been on a mission to help spread the word and to empower individuals to reduce this risk factor by taking simple steps to prioritise their hearing, not only for the benefit of their brain health, but for their physical and mental health too. 

Her background is economics and business, but her passion has always been to help others. She's long had a keen interest in helping to reduce the monumental global impacts of dementia. 

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2 min read

Hearing loss and dementia

Hearing has been found to be an essential part of brain health and it has recently become clear that untreated hearing loss is associated with cognitive decline and dementia.  

Research suggests that: 

  • People with untreated mild hearing loss have double the risk of developing dementia  
  • People with untreated moderate hearing loss have triple the risk 
  • People with untreated severe hearing loss have 5 times the risk 
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Miriam Warcup
Co Founder (BA MSc MSc)
Pexels karolina grabowska 8092973

Introduction

The 2020 Lancet Commission on dementia prevention, information and care found that 40% of dementia cases are potentially preventable through addressing 12 modifiable risk factors (as shown in the infographic below). This means that if actions are taken to address these risk factors, it can reduce the total risk of dementia by up to 40%. 

The largest modifiable risk factor was found to be ‘mid-life hearing loss’ which accounted for 8% of the 40% modifiable risk of dementia. This suggests that up to 800,000 of the 10 million new cases of dementia each year are associated with hearing loss.  

Infographic 4

the benefits of addressing hearing loss are even more far reaching

What’s more, one of heard’s experts, Professor Sarah Bauermeister, a cognitive neuropsychologist at The University of Oxford, suggests that:

“Simply, by addressing your hearing loss, which accounts for 8% of dementia risk, you can also lower other risks of dementia such as brain injury, obesity, depression, social isolation, physical inactivity and diabetes.”

The Lancet commission strongly encourages individuals to treat their hearing loss with hearing aids and to protect their ears from excessive noise exposure to help to mitigate dementia risks associated with hearing loss. See ‘Hearing aid use and dementia risk’ and ‘how loud is too loud?’ for more information.

Please note, the association between hearing loss and cognitive decline is principally in relation to people with age-related hearing loss that comes on slowly over time. There is no evidence to suggest that the risk of dementia is greater in the deaf community or those who use British Sign Language.

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So, why is untreated hearing loss and dementia linked?

The mechanisms behind the association between untreated hearing loss and dementia remain unclear. However, Frank Lin and Nicolas Reed from John Hopkins University suggest that the below three mechanisms may be responsible.

1. Hearing loss overloads the circuity of the brain

Hearing loss can make the brain work harder, forcing it to strain to process the degraded sounds and effectively fill in the gaps. Scientists believe this might take resources away that are used to preserve thinking and memory abilities.

2. Hearing loss can lead to social isolation and loneliness

People with hearing loss may limit their social interactions, resulting in loneliness, a loss of engagement in cognitively stimulating activities and depression, which are all risk factors for dementia.

3. Hearing loss damages the brain

If the brain is less stimulated by sound information, it can shrink or ‘atrophy’ parts of the brain. This means that brain cells and the connections between them are lost.

Whatever the reason behind the link between untreated hearing loss and dementia, one thing is clear, treating hearing loss has a huge number of benefits that go beyond protecting your brain health.

Hearing can help you to stay connected with loved ones and to the world around you.

Prioritising your hearing can benefit both your mental and physical health. If you have any concerns after your hearing, it is important to speak to your GP or local audiologist who can help you to take appropriate steps forward. 

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Written by

Miriam Warcup

Co Founder (BA MSc MSc)

Miriam undertook a Master's at Kings College London in 2020 in 'Gerontology and Ageing'. It was here that she specialised in 'Dementia Prevention' for her thesis, where she learnt of the little known fact, that untreated hearing loss is the biggest risk factor for dementia that we can do something about. Miriam's thesis was later published in the journal of 'Working with Older People'. Since then, she has been on a mission to help spread the word and to empower individuals to reduce this risk factor by taking simple steps to prioritise their hearing, not only for the benefit of their brain health, but for their physical and mental health too.  Her background is economics and business, but her passion has always been to help others. She's long had a keen interest in helping to reduce the monumental global impacts of dementia. 

Learn more about Miriam
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