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Dementia and Hearing Loss: the role of Audiology
Contact Name: Sarah Bent
Sarah Bent is a registered Clinical Scientist with the Audiology Department of Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board in North Wales. She originally studied at the University of Manchester, completing a PhD in Physics before starting her career in Audiology. Sarah’s professional interests include assessment and rehabilitation of adults with dementia or learning disabilities. She is the clinical representative for dementia on the British Society of Audiology Cognition in Hearing Special Interest Group, which has included collaborating as a stakeholder in the NICE update for dementia, and co-running an expert panel workshop (more details to follow in Audacity shortly).
The link between hearing loss and dementia is not a new concept, but recent research has confirmed a strong association (Lin et al., 2011). A recent international survey of Audiology professionals reported a tacit awareness of the needs of those living with dementia, but a belief that they did not have enough information or training (Wright et al., 2014). Added to this, there is evidence to suggest that hearing loss may be under-diagnosed and under-treated in people living with dementia (Bauer et al., 2014).
As a summary of the literature to date, four key reasons are presented to argue why hearing loss should be considered in those living with dementia, and conversely why those living with dementia should be specifically considered in Audiology services. The impact that Audiology rehabilitation may have is discussed, both on daily living and on cognition. Practicalities of assessment and rehabilitation are also included, drawn from what is known on dementia as applied to clinical experience. And a challenge for action from the Audiology profession as a whole is posed, for all researchers and funding-providers, clinicians and clinical leads, patients and advocates – what role should Audiology have?
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