Published: 07 July 2023
Researching hearing loss and memory problems
My research focuses on how problems with hearing and memory are best addressed in clinical practice. Recent research has shown a link between hearing loss in midlife and an increased risk of developing dementia. While more research is needed to understand this link, addressing memory in hearing services for older adults, may offer opportunities to reduce dementia risk.
The core of my research is holding focus groups and interviews to understand the journeys, experiences and expectations of older adults and their families attending NHS hearing services in terms of memory care. I am also looking at the experiences of healthcare professionals addressing hearing and cognitive health in clinical services.
With this work, I aim to help create practical guidance on how to address cognition in adult hearing services. Using the opportunity, via hearing services, to recognise cognitive health problems in older adults may significantly improve patient outcomes. Supplying practical guidance may also reduce the immense pressure healthcare professionals in the NHS face.
Working in research
Research allows you to take any question or problem and use your ingenuity to come up with a solution. Of course, you need to work in a methodological fashion and use scientific evidence to underpin everything that you do, but using this with creativity is a lot of fun!
The main challenge so far has been figuring out a work-life balance which suits me best. It is quite common for research to veer outside of the typical 9-5 working hours. While this is unavoidable at times and often a great sign that you are making progress, it is also important to remind yourself to take a break and return to your research with a fresh mind.
Why I love research
One thing that I love about working in research is that it has no boundaries. You can choose what you do, how much you do and you can engage with as much research as you like. Another thing that I love about research is that no matter how specialised your research topic is, there are always collaborative opportunities.
There will be someone, somewhere who you can speak to about your research, compare notes and potentially join forces with for future projects. To top it all off, the world of research is filled with conferences, events and talks to attend which allow you to meet a variety of like-minded people from whom you can learn a lot from and network with.
Working in research enables you to continually develop your skills and acquire an abundance of knowledge. It is in your own hands as to how much of this you do. If I were to sum up research using one word, it would be ‘limitless’!
The NIHR Shape the Future campaign celebrates the NHS’ 75th birthday and the importance of research.