Can treating hearing loss delay cognitive decline?
As humans age, many things become inevitable: Our hair will gray, skin will wrinkle, and our eyesight, hearing and cognitive abilities won’t be what they once were. These changes to our body are normal and natural; tradeoffs to living a long and fulfilling life. This doesn’t mean we can’t prolong their inevitability or thwart the negative changes that come with aging.
Luckily, technology and science provide ways to do just that. In fact, two of these changes can be impacted with one technological solution. Let us explain.
Hearing loss is associated with accelerated cognitive decline
A 2013 study by Johns Hopkins Medicine linked untreated hearing loss to accelerated cognitive decline. The highly regarded study concluded that older adults with hearing loss “develop problems thinking and remembering” 30 to 40 percent faster than their peers with normal hearing1. The study attributed several reasons for the accelerated decline, including the tie between hearing loss and social isolation – a well established risk factor of dementia – and science that shows the more the brain works to process sounds, the less energy it has for memory and thinking.
Wearing hearing aids reduces accelerated decline
In addition, a 25-year study investigating the association between hearing loss, hearing aid use and cognitive decline just published their findings last fall. The study supported the Johns Hopkins research but, more importantly, found that people with hearing loss who use hearing aids “had similar rates of cognitive decline as those with no hearing impairment.2”
Kill two birds with one solution
In short, wearing hearing aids not only treats hearing loss, it is also proven to slow cognitive decline in people with hearing loss.
If you’d like to know more about hearing loss and its impact on dementia and cognitive decline, we’re here to help.
1 Lin, F. R., Yaffe, K., Xia, J., Xue, Q., Harris, T.B., Purchase-Helzner, E., … Simonsick, E.M. (2013). Hearing Loss and Cognitive Decline in Older Adults. JAMA Internal Medicine,173(4), 293-299. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.1868
2 Amieva, H., Ouvrard, C., Giulioli, C., Meillon, C., Rullier, L., & Dartigues, J. F. (2015, October). Self-Reported Hearing Loss, Hearing Aids, and Cognitive Decline in Elderly Adults: A 25-Year Study. Retrieved from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26480972