While the link between hearing loss and cognitive decline including dementia has been established, causality isn’t yet clear. A new study, however, suggests that wearing hearing aids may help postpone or possibly protect against future cognitive problems.
More than 250 people from Maryland with an average age in the mid 70s took part in the Johns Hopkins University-led study. Most participants suffered from mild-to-severe hearing loss. The study including testing on memory, learning, and processing speed and attention. Researchers repeated the same testing three times over a period of 20 years between the early 1990s and 2013.
The study found that all participants declined over the years, but those with moderate to severe hearing loss who reported not wearing hearing aids showed the worst decline in cognitive function. Participants who wore hearing aids showed only a slightly greater decline than participants with normal hearing. Jennifer Deal, the study’s lead author reports, “This study is important because it focuses on a risk factor that is amenable to intervention in later life and could potentially postpone cognitive decline.”
To continue the discover, Johns Hopkins is launching another five-year study to focus on the impact of wearing hearing aids on cognitive abilities, and whether treatment for hearing loss can prevent or postpone cognitive decline. Stay tuned…