Unassisted hearing loss is an important risk factor for social isolation and loneliness as well as cognitive decline in the older population. If this is suspected, onward referral to audiology should be automatic.
I'm not a GP but, considering that the majority of older patients will have communicaton problems due to hearing impairment and, somemes, cognition issues, a 10 minute appointment is a totally unreasonable expectation.
Disappointing that undiagnosed and unaided hearing loss as a risk factor for accelerating cognitive decline and, quite possibly, developing dementia is not included with obesity and smoking. Is the evidence for a causative connection between dementia and either obesity or smoking greater than for age-related hearing loss? See, for example, Lin et al. (2011) Hearing Loss and Incident Dementia. Arch Neurol 68(2):214–220. Routine screening for hearing loss for all those over 50 years of age might be a better first line of approach.
This guidance from the DH is certainly welcome news but it would be a serious omission if it did not include communication with those who have sensory impairment as well as the above mentioned physical and mental impairments. I am thinking particularly of those with hearing impairment and, as if any justification was needed anyway, the DH need only refer to Action on Hearing Loss (formerly RNID) report in 2006 and subsequent reports in 2010 which include data on the communication problems of those with hearing loss when they are in a health care setting.
Barry Downes, BSHAA President
Screening for hearing loss in the over 50s should be included in this programme. Through earlier identification of and assistance for hearing loss, a contribution could be made to maintaining cognitive and physical health. It astonishes me that any effort to identify the early symptoms of dementia does not recognise the importance of including a hearing assessment.
The effects of hearing loss are well described.....imagine what it's like when it's permanent!
Well, almost right! I'm Professional Services Manager for Amplifon in the UK.
Disappointing that there appears to be no account taken of the emerging evidence of the relationship between hearng loss and dementia. Hearing assessment should be routine so that it's presence or absence can be taken into account before dementia diagnosis. See Hearing Loss and Incident Dementia, Lin et al (2011)
It is known that those who experience hearing and communication difficulties delay for ten years or more before seeking professional advice and assistance. Any measures which promote screening for hearing loss to be considered as routine as sight tests and dental health checks should be universally encouraged and supported.