AARP Eye Center
Almost 10 percent of people between the ages of 55 and 64, a quarter of people ages 65 to 74, and half of those age 75 and older live with disabling hearing loss, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.
Research has long associated hearing loss with dementia. However, what hasn’t been clear is whether treating the hearing loss will also help prevent or slow down memory loss. Now a new meta-analysis published earlier this month in JAMA Neurology offers convincing evidence that it may.
“We’re much more confident that there is a good association between hearing aid use and reversing chance of cognitive decline,” says Justin Golub, M.D., an associate professor of otolaryngology, neurotology and skull base surgery at the New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center in New York City.
What the research found about hearing loss and dementia
Researchers analyzed 31 studies, both observational and clinical trials, and looked at the link between hearing restoration devices, such as hearing aids and cochlear implants, and cognitive decline. They found that the use of these devices was associated not only with a 19 percent decrease in long-term cognitive decline but also with a 3 percent improvement in cognitive test scores in the short term — anywhere from three months to a year.
This is a significant improvement, notes Douglas Hildrew, M.D., an assistant professor at the Yale School of Medicine in the Section of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery. “It’s something we would hope to see — but not necessarily expect to,” he says.
Authors Frank Lin and Nicholas Reed at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine lay out the steps to hearing health, including the benefits for your cognitive, emotional and physical well-being.