Study Shows Hearing Aids Could Help Reduce Cognitive Decline in High-Risk Older Adults

An elderly man wearing his hearing aid in his right ear.

As the world’s population gets older, more people are experiencing conditions like dementia and cognitive decline. Researchers are searching for effective and affordable ways to slow down or prevent these age-related cognitive issues. One connection that has been observed is between hearing loss and the development of dementia in older individuals. Using hearing aids to address hearing loss might help in slowing down cognitive problems, but this connection hadn’t been thoroughly tested in a large-scale study.

To fill this gap in knowledge, a team of researchers, led by Dr. Frank Lin from Johns Hopkins University and supported by NIH funding, conducted a clinical trial involving nearly 1,000 adults aged 70 to 84. These participants were split into two groups: one group received hearing aids and training on their use, while the other group participated in a health education program promoting healthy aging. The researchers measured cognitive function through tests before and during the three-year study.

Results showed that participants who received hearing aids experienced significant improvements in communication abilities throughout the study. In the overall analysis of all participants, there was no significant difference in the rate of cognitive decline between those who received hearing aids and those who didn’t. However, a more focused analysis on individuals with higher dementia risk from a heart-health study revealed a significant benefit. Those who received hearing aids experienced nearly a 50% reduction in the rate of cognitive decline compared to the health education group.

The researchers are continuing to monitor the participants to gain more insights into how hearing preservation might prevent cognitive decline in vulnerable older adults. Until more is understood, the researchers recommend regular hearing check-ups for older adults to address any hearing issues as part of general health and well-being.

Hit the source link below to learn more about this study.

Source: National Institute of Health

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