Evidence is mounting that hearing aids can reduce your risk of dementia

There is emerging evidence that ageing with untreated moderate to severe hearing loss increases our risk of accelerated cognitive decline and dementia. The good news is that wearing hearing aids provides cognitive benefits and may delay the onset.

Posted Thursday August 4, 2022

It is normal as we age that our brains slow down, however, dementia is not a normal aging processes, and as you get older hearing loss is a risk factor for dementia. After the age of 65, every 5 years the risk doubles.

However, recent research followed a group of first-time hearing aids users aged 62 to 82 to assess the effect of the devices on measures including hearing, cognitive function, speech perception, quality of life, physical activity, loneliness, isolation, mood, and medical health.

At re-assessment eighteen months later there was no significant cognitive decline on pre-fitting measurements, and speech perception in quiet, self-reported listening disability, and quality of life had significantly improved, suggesting that the hearing aids may have delayed cognitive decline.

Hearing loss impacts on social integration, which affects our life expectancy, physical, mental and emotional health. The benefits that hearing aid users report include more engagement in group activities and a positive impact on their relationships, which results in better cognitive health.

Image by: Lynn Peck

Conclusions

  1. The greater the hearing loss, the more likely a person will have poorer cognitive function.
  2. The cognitive function of older people with hearing loss can remain stable if they wear hearing aids, and over time significantly improve.
  3. Frequent use of hearing aids provides greater improvements in cognitive function.

If you would like to read more these studies are a good start.

Jennifer A. Deal et al, for the Health ABC Study Group (2017). ‘Hearing Impairment and Incident Dementia and Cognitive Decline in Older Adults: The Health ABC Study’, The Journals of Gerontology: Series A, Volume 72, Issue 5, 1 May 2017, pp. 703–709

Sarant, J. et al. (2020). ‘The effect of hearing aid use on cognition in older adults: Can we delay decline or even improve cognitive function?’ Journal of Clinical Medicine, 9(1), 254

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