Could Hearing Loss be linked to Dementia?

Hearing loss and DEMENTIA

First, let's take a closer look at hearing loss. Hearing loss can be temporary or permanent. It often comes on gradually as you get older, but it can sometimes happen suddenly. It's not always easy to tell if you're losing your hearing.

Common symptoms hearing loss includes:

• Difficulty hearing other people clearly, and misunderstanding what they say, especially in noisy places

• Asking people to repeat themselves

• Listening to music or watching television loudly

• Having to concentrate hard to hear what other people are saying, which can be tiring or stressful

Types of hearing loss

Mild hearing loss

May have difficulty following speech, especially in noisy situations. This type of hearing loss Audiogram is often noticed by family first.

moderate hearing loss

Often has difficulty following speech and frequency in cycles per second missing other quiet noises. Amplification is very successful for this loss, but you also need to use good hearing tactics.

MODERATELY severe hearing loss

Unable to hear speech even in quiet surroundings and may not hear general noises such as traffic unless they are loud. Amplification is very successful for this loss, but you also need to use good hearing tactics. Lip-reading classes could benefit people with this hearing loss.

Severe hearing loss

Unable to hear most sounds unless they are very loud. Amplification is often useful, but you will also need to rely on good hearing tactics. Lip-reading classes would also be useful for people with this hearing loss. If you fall into this category, you may also use sign language and watch sign assisted programmes.

profound hearing loss

Will need to wear appropriate amplification technology (e.g. hearing aids, cochlear implant, FM) in order to hear conversational speech.


If you are experiencing difficulties communicating with a particular person in a situation. The most efficient way to do so is explain to them about these tactics below, making sure they are aware. Once they understand this can help make the situations easier for you.

  • Get to the point
  • Do not cover your mouth
  • Get my attention
  • Face me
  • Do not speak to fast
  • Find a suitable place to talk
  • Do not shout

What is dementia?

Dementia is an umbrella term for a range of progressive conditions that affect the brain. There are over 200 sub-types of dementia, but the five most common are:

  • Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Vascular dementia,
  • Dementia with Lewy bodies,
  • Frontotemporal dementia and mixed dementia.

The brain is made up of nerve cells (neurones) that communicate with each other by sending messages. Dementia damages the nerve cells in the brain so messages can’t be sent from and to the brain effectively, which prevents the body from functioning normally. Regardless of which type of dementia is diagnosed and what part of the brain is affected, each person will experience dementia in their own unique way. Dementia can affect a person at any age but it is more commonly diagnosed in people over the age of 65 years. A person developing dementia before age 65 is said to have young onset dementia. There are over 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK and this is set to rise to over one million by 2021.


People with dementia can have difficulty communicating with others, including finding the right words, or signs, for what they want to say. They will have difficulty processing what they’ve heard, particularly if there are distractions. According to some researchers, this difficulty in processing information (when there is competing information, auditory or otherwise) can be one of the first signs of some form of cognitive impairment.


Further evidence suggests that proper diagnosis and management of hearing loss, including provision of hearing aids, reduce the risk and impact of dementia and some of the other associated co-morbidities, such as falls and depression. It is worth mentioning that although dementia is diagnosed in later life, changes in the brain usually start developing many years before. The study looked at the benefits of building a "cognitive reserve", meaning that if the brain’s networks were strengthened, it could continue to function in later life regardless of the damage. As discussed, lifestyle factors can play a vital role in increasing or reducing an individual's dementia risk. It is suggested that not smoking, keeping healthy, doing exercise and treating high blood pressure and diabetes can all help reduce the risk of dementia for some, as well as cardiovascular disease. It is important to remember that not everyone will successfully make changes; some changes will not make a difference and some risks of dementia are hereditary and cannot be changed. If you are worried about hearing loss or dementia, it is best to speak to your GP who will then refer you to the appropriate professional for further investigation, for example an audiologist or ENT Consultant for hearing difficulties.

common symptoms of dementia

• Memory loss

• Confusion (not remembering what they were saying)

• Difficulty with thinking and decision making (should they answer the door?)

• Decline in skills needed for everyday living (not remembering how to cook)

• Changes in ways of communicating (not being able to find the correct word, mixing up words, or repeating what’s been said) 

• Education reduction after 11 -12 years

• Midlife Hypertension

• Midlife obesity

• Hearing loss

• Smoking

• Not keeping active and fit

• Diabetes

• Depression

• Social isolation

At Liverpool Hearing Centre we recommend that people get their hearing tested especially when you are over 55. If hearing loss is found deal with the problem immediately. Hearing aids are so small and there is no reason to put it off especially as the evidence points to reduced rick of dementia or certainly reducing the impact of dementia.