There has long been a recognized correlation between hearing loss and dementia in La Verne and throughout the country. While the association between impaired hearing and cognitive decline is well-understood, one question that hasn’t had a solid answer is whether hearing aids can help delay or prevent the onset of dementia. A new study indicates that they do, in fact, help protect patients with hearing loss.
An Established Link Between Hearing Loss and Dementia
Multiple studies have concluded that untreated hearing loss can lead to dementia. Just last year, the results from a long-term French study were made public. Researchers tracked 3,700 people over the course of 25 years and found that hearing-impaired individuals over the age of 65 had a 35 percent increase in dementia compared to their normal-hearing peers. Furthermore, this risk increased an additional 20 percent for each corresponding 10-decibel loss in hearing ability. These results were in line with studies by other researchers from Johns Hopkins University and the Lancet Commission on Dementia Prevention, Intervention and Care, among others.
What was not known was whether hearing aids could play a role in reducing the risk of dementia. A research team from the University of Exeter and King’s College London found evidence to support this notion.
Their study looked at 25,000 people 50 and older who were diagnosed with hearing loss. Participants were divided into two groups: those who wore hearing aids and those who did not treat their condition. They were given annual cognitive tests over a two-year period; those who wore hearing aids scored higher on working memory and attention tests and displayed faster reaction times and better concentration than the people who did not use hearing aids.
Lead researcher Dr. Anne Corbett explained, “Previous research has shown that hearing loss is linked to a loss of brain function, memory and an increased risk of dementia. Our work is one of the largest studies to look at the impact of wearing a hearing aid and suggests that wearing a hearing aid could actually protect the brain. We now need more research and a clinical trial to test this and perhaps feed into policy to help keep people healthy in later life.”
Professor Clive Ballard, another member of the team, summed it up thusly: “The message here is that if you’re advised you need a hearing aid, find one that works for you. At the very least it will improve your hearing and it could help keep your brain sharp too.”
If you have hearing loss and haven’t sought treatment for your condition yet, make an appointment with an audiologist in La Verne. Doing so could help keep your brain sharp for many years to come.