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People with mild hearing loss are twice as likely to develop dementia than those with normal hearing. People with severe hearing loss are up to five times more likely. There’s also research suggesting a link between vision impairment and dementia in later life. 

These links aren’t well understood yet, but research is ongoing. If you have hearing or vision loss, you’re not guaranteed to develop dementia, you just have a higher risk. Taking care of your hearing and vision can help you reduce your risk of developing dementia. 

What you can do: hearing 

The best way to protect your hearing is to prevent damage. You can do that by: 

  • avoiding loud noise 
  • wearing hearing protection 
  • quitting smoking 
  • having your hearing tested regularly. 

Even with the best prevention, some level of hearing loss is common. Signs of hearing loss include: 

  • trouble engaging in conversations with friends and family 
  • asking people to repeat what they’ve said 
  • finding noisy environments more challenging 
  • needing to turn the television or radio up louder than usual. 

If you or someone close to you notices problems with your hearing, talk to your doctor as soon as you can. They can test your hearing and refer you to a specialist to work out what’s going on. Early diagnosis and intervention can help improve your quality of life and reduce your risk of dementia. 

Some hearing services can be subsidised by the Australian Government’s Hearing Services Program or private health insurance.

In this video, Adult Specialist Audiologist Catherine Hart explains how we hear, the warning signs and impacts of hearing loss, how hearing aids and other assistive devices can help, the importance of communication tactics, and how to access hearing services.

Dementia expert webinar: hearing and dementia, with Catherine Hart

What you can do: vision 

Talk to your doctor about your vision and get regular eye examinations. Early diagnosis and intervention are key to improving your quality of life and reducing your risk of dementia. 

 If you have glasses or contact lenses, wear them when you need them to reduce the strain on your eyes and brain.

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Last updated
18 December 2023