A recent study investigating the association between hearing loss, hearing aid use, and cognitive decline was published in the Journal of American Geriatric Society. More than 3,500 individuals over 65 participated, and results found that self‐reported hearing loss was associated with accelerated cognitive decline in older adults. Results also found that hearing aid use attenuates such decline (1).
Hearing Loss and Dementia There are around 47 million people with dementia worldwide. According to Prince et. al (2016), over the next 30 years this number is expected to reach 131 million (2). Dementia has a physical and psychological impact on the patients and families, and healthcare costs for people with dementia are substantial. The Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging found that participants with hearing loss showed accelerated atrophy in the brain, especially in the right temporal lobe (7). Using hearing aids has not been shown to slow down cognitive decline - but unmanaged hearing loss can lead to social withdrawal, depression, and reduced self-esteem (3).
Hearing Aids Can Help! Although hearing aids will not prevent dementia, they will help to make listening easier by reducing your effort to hear! The US Health and Retirement Study has examined the relationship between hearing aid use and cognitive decline. More than 2000 individuals over 50 participated in the US Health and Retirement Study (3). Results found that hearing aids may reduce depression and promote cognitively stimulating social engagement. Hearing aids may also reduce the unfavorable impacts of sensory deprivation to the brain (4-6). Improving prevention, identification, and treatment of hearing impairment may help to delay the onset of cognitive impairment and reduce the growing dementia epidemic (3).
Amieva, H., Ouvrard, C., Giulioli, C., Meillon, C., & Rullier, L. (2015). Self‐Reported Hearing Loss, Hearing Aids, and Cognitive Decline in Elderly Adults: A 25‐Year Study. Journal of American Geriatric Society,63, 2099-2104. Retrieved June 21, 2019.
Prince M, Comas-Herrera A, Knapp M, Guerchet M, Karagiannidou M. Alzheimer’s Disease International. World Alzheimer Report 2016: Improving healthcare for people living with dementia: Coverage, quality and costs now and in the future. September 2016.
Maharani A, Dawes P, Nazroo J, Tampubolon G, Pendleton N, on behalf of the SENSE-Cog WP1 group. Longitudinal relationships between hearing aid use and cognitive function in older Americans. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2018;66(6):1130-1136.
Lin FR, Yaffe K, Xia J, et al. Hearing loss and cognitive decline in older adults.JAMA Internal Med. 2013; 173(4):293-299.
Birren JE. The Psychology of Aging. 1st ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall;1964.
Wahl H-W, Heyl V. Connections between vision, hearing, and cognitive function in old age. Generations. 2003;27(1): :e2423.
Lin FR, Ferrucci L, An Y, et al. Association of hearing impairment with brain volume changes in older adults. NeuroImage. 2014;90:84-92.