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March 2022


Time to get your hearing checked

March is Hearing Awareness Month. Over 70% of Australians aged 70+ experience hearing loss. It is one of the most common long-term conditions associated with ageing. Yet hearing loss is often under-diagnosed and under-treated.

Most people don’t realise the considerable impacts of hearing loss, or that it is linked with serious conditions, including anxiety, depression and dementia.
Untreated hearing loss is associated with:
  • lower levels of social engagement
  • increased risk of social isolation
  • poorer mental wellbeing
  • reduced spatial awareness, balance problems and increased falls risk.
Studies have shown that hearing loss can significantly increase the risk of developing dementia – the greater the hearing loss, the greater the risk. For people already diagnosed with dementia, untreated hearing loss (and other sensory impairments) can exacerbate challenges of daily living.

“Hearing loss accounts for 8% of the risk for developing dementia” said Professor Brodaty from the Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing (CHeBA).

“But wearing hearing aids can reduce your risk. The earlier people start using hearing aids, the more likely they are to continue using them and to derive the benefits.”

There have been considerable advances in hearing aid technology over the past five years. Digital hearing aids are effective at filtering out background noise and work with Bluetooth technology.

Symptoms of hearing loss

First signs of hearing loss include:
  • Difficulty hearing in noisy places and hearing conversations
  • Difficulty understanding people, especially if they are wearing a mask or not facing you
  • Often needing to ask people to repeat themselves
  • Hearing muffled sounds, as though people are mumbling
  • Turning the TV up louder than other people
  • Missing your phone/doorbell ringing
  • Not hearing high pitched sounds like the beep of a thermometer
  • Constant buzzing or ringing in your ears
  • Increased discomfort with loud noises.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, book in to see your GP or an audiologist. Get your hearing checked now so you can move forward with dementia.

For more information:

Check the Australian Government’s hearing services program to see if you are eligible for subsidised hearing services and devices.

How your GP and Practice Nurse can help

Sometimes patients, and their family, raise issues about memory loss as part of other health consultations. But a useful opportunity for screening for dementia is the 75-year health assessment,” said Dr Jeff Hall, a GP at Bulli Medical Practice in New South Wales (NSW).

Australians aged 75 years and older are entitled to an annual health assessment which is fully covered by Medicare. The in-depth consultation usually lasts for an hour, with part of the consultation with the practice nurse part with the GP.

The 75+ health assessment provides a structured way of identifying existing health issues and interventions or lifestyle changes that can help to improve your future health and quality of life. As part of this assessment, your psychological function, including your cognition (memory and thinking) is reviewed using scientifically validated screening tools.

"If there are features of dementia, or even when there is some concern, we can conduct further screening tests including blood tests and brain scans,” said Dr Hall.

"If the results of these tests confirm a dementia diagnosis is indicated, we refer the patient to a specialist neurologist, gerontologist or psychiatrist to refine the diagnosis. Specialists may conduct more in-depth investigations, and if indicated, commence pharmaceutical therapies.”


If you are diagnosed with dementia, you will still have an ongoing relationship with your GP and practice nurse. They can help monitor and manage your symptoms and work in collaboration with your specialist. Your GP will also help you to manage other health issues that may impact on your cognition (for example, urinary tract infections).

GPs can also help you manage and reduce known risk factors for dementia, including physical inactivity, uncorrected hearing loss, obesity, type 2 diabetes, mid-life high blood pressure, smoking and heavy alcohol use.

If you need additional support at home, GPs and Practice Nurses can assist you to arrange an Aged Care Assessment via My Aged Care and access subsidised services. Similarly, for people with Younger Onset Dementia (under 65 years), GPs and Practice Nurses can help you access services through the NDIS.

Dr Russell Pearson, a GP in Gerringong, NSW, has worked with Forward with Dementia to review the content on our website, including the downloadable tools.

"The Forward with Dementia website is a wonderful resource for people recently diagnosed as well as for health professionals involved in the diagnosis and management of dementia,” said Dr Pearson.

"I started to use the list of Possible Questions to Ask Your Doctor with patients and their carers. It helps us to structure consultations, and ensures they are fully informed about the diagnosis, what to expect and how to plan. It also encourages us to consider other therapies and supports needed to live well with dementia.”

Chronic Disease Management Plans

Dementia is a chronic condition, and GPs can work with you to set up an annual Chronic Disease Management Plan. These plans provide up to five subsidised allied health visits every year. This can include visits to podiatrists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, dieticians, exercise physiologists and more. Your GP will coordinate and liaise with your allied health practitioner to ensure you get the support you need to better manage or lessen the impact of unwanted symptoms.

More information on how therapists can support you:

People with dementia can read the following articles on the Forward with Dementia website:

Carers can read the following articles on the website:

Mental Health Treatment Plans

If you are experiencing anxiety, depression or other mental health condition, you may also qualify for a Mental Health Treatment Plan. Your GP (or psychiatrist) will work with you to establish this plan, and you can then access subsidised visits to psychologists, social workers and occupational therapists.

Through the Better Access Initiative, people with a Mental Health Treatment Plan can receive 10 individual and 10 group allied mental health services each year. As part of the Better Access Pandemic Support Measure Australians whose mental health is impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic can access an additional 10 Medicare subsidised psychological therapy sessions. These additional sessions are available from 9 October 2020 until 30 June 2022.

More information about support for anxiety and depression

People with dementia can read the following articles on the Forward with Dementia website:

Carers can read the following articles on the website:

Many people with dementia and carers have found participating in research brings a sense of hope, and others see it as a way of ‘giving back’. Read the articles about finding hope on the Forward with Dementia website:

There are many types of research you can participate in, from trials of new drugs for treating symptoms, to interventions that may help with daily life for people with dementia and carers.

StepUp for Dementia Research is a free online, postal, and telephone service that connects people interested in dementia research with researchers conducting studies into dementia prevention, diagnosis, treatment, care, and cure. Anyone aged 18 and over – both with and without dementia – can register their interest, which can take as little as five minutes. Based on volunteers’ characteristics such as age, location, and diagnosis, they will be matched to any studies for which they may be eligible. 

One of the biggest challenges for dementia researchers is finding the right people to participate. Over the past two years, the StepUp team at the University of Sydney has been providing support to the public and dementia researchers to tackle this challenge. Improving recruitment into research studies has the potential to save millions of dollars and fast-track dementia research. Importantly, StepUp will give the public a voice and help them contribute to the future of dementia research. Ultimately, without research participants research cannot take place.  Visit StepUp website today by clicking the link here

WEBINAR:  Thursday 16 March at 5pm AEDT

Navigating the system: finding supports after a dementia diagnosis

People recently diagnosed with dementia and carers find themselves navigating a maze of services, practitioners, and little information about what support is available.

In the absence of a clear dementia care pathway, this panel discussion with Dr Andrea Lees, Sue Tolhurst, Bill Yeates and Dr Stephanie Daly will describe the challenges and practical solutions in negotiating the Australian health and aged care systems to provide treatments and supports post diagnosis.

This webinar will guide diagnosticians and primary care practitioners to help their patients access services. 
Register for the Webinar
Dr Andrea Lees, Geriatrician, Royal Hobart Hospital
Sue Tolhurst, Social worker and
dementia advisor in Western Sydney
Bill Yeates, Dementia Advocate
Dr Stephanie Daly, General Practitioner and GP Educator


  • Listen to Prof Lee-Fay Low, Prof Henry Brodaty, A/Prof Lyn Phillipson and Meredith Gresham on the latest RANZCP PsychMatters podcast about how to tell someone they have dementia, evidence for post-diagnostic treatments and support, and Forward with Dementia resources
  • Listen to the latest Dementia Podcast where members of the COGNISANCE team discuss current problems with the way a dementia diagnosis is communicated and support for people with dementia and carers.

 Win one of ten $50 shopping vouchers!

You are invited to provide feedback on our website and other activities as part of the Forward with Dementia program.
  • People with dementia and their supporters, carers and family can participate in a 20-minute survey by clicking on the link in the yellow button below. Everyone who returns a completed survey will go in to a draw to win one of ten $50.00 shopping vouchers.
  • Others involved in dementia diagnosis and care can provide 2-minute feedback via the link directly.
This will help us with further development and future efforts to improve post-diagnostic support for people in the 12-months following a dementia diagnosis.
Take the Evaluation Survey
Thank you in advance for your time!

Calling all health professionals!

  • Have you used the Forward with Dementia website or resources with clients over the last three months?
  • Has it changed your knowledge or practice of diagnosis or post diagnostic support in any way?

We’d love to know more.
Please take the
5-minute survey. THANK YOU! 

Interviews for people with dementia and supporters

We would like the opportunity to discuss and understand your experiences of the Forward with Dementia program in more detail, and to understand how the project may have changed your knowledge, attitudes and behaviours related to dementia and dementia care
  • Interviews are online or by phone, they are confidential and will be conducted by an experienced university researcher. Interviews will take about 30-45 minutes.
  • Register for an interview by emailing and our team will contact you to discuss.

Need more information?

Read About Us or email or leave a message on Tel: (02) 9065 7307.

You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube (see links at the bottom of this email).

Forward with Dementia is part of the COGNISANCE project. The project was awarded by the European Union Joint Program on Neurodegenerative Disorders and in Australia is funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council.

This project has been approved by the UNSW Human Research Ethics Committee. Project number HC210560 and HC 210308.

Copyright © 2022 Cognisance. All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing (CHeBA)
UNSW Medicine, School of Psychiatry
Room 305, Level 3, AGSM (G27)
Gate 11, Botany Street NSW 2052 AUSTRALIA

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