Did you know that using hearing aids goes beyond just enhancing your auditory experience? Research has unveiled a compelling connection between hearing aid use and cognitive health, particularly in reducing the risk of dementia.
Numerous studies have demonstrated a strong correlation between untreated hearing loss with (accelerated) cognitive decline and increased risk of developing dementia1,2. Compared to those with normal hearing, individuals with hearing loss had a 24% increased risk for cognitive impairment; with the rates of cognitive decline and risk for cognitive impairment being linearly associated with the severity of one’s level of hearing loss2. People with hearing loss but not using hearing aids were at considerably higher risk of dementia compared to people who used hearing aids3. Additionally, a longitudinal study spanning 18 years, showed the rate of decline in memory performance and other cognitive functions slowed down with the use of hearing despite aging4.
The good news is that addressing hearing loss with the help of hearing aids can play a pivotal role in preserving cognitive function.
Here are some key findings from the research studies:
Cognitive Stimulation: Hearing aids provide continuous auditory stimulation, helping keep the brain engaged and active. This stimulation has been linked to a lower risk of cognitive decline. Recent studies have also shown that hearing aids slowed cognitive decline by 48% over three years. Conversely, prolonged reduction of hearing function leads to insufficient stimulation and can cause cognitive decline later in life.
Social Engagement: Improved hearing promotes better communication, fostering social interactions that are crucial for maintaining cognitive health. Isolation, often linked to untreated hearing loss, can contribute to the onset of dementia. Social engagement also supports higher self-efficacy and helps lower levels of depressive symptoms.
Brain Structure: Studies using advanced imaging techniques have shown that individuals using hearing aids exhibit more preserved brain structure compared to those with untreated hearing loss. The presence of hearing loss being strongly associated with decline in the amount of grey matter6 and white matter in nearly every region of the brain7.
ARE YOU 55 YET?
Hearing impairment is categorised as the most prominent midlife risk factor for dementia, with 55 years being the youngest average age at with the presence of hearing loss was associated with increased risk of dementia5. Monitoring hearing function and the timing of initial hearing aid use is the crucial variable for the success of hearing aids as an intervention7.
Taking care of your hearing today not only improves your immediate quality of life but also sets the stage for a healthier and more vibrant future. It’s a small investment on your quality of life with potentially significant returns.
If you or someone you know is experiencing hearing difficulties, don’t hesitate to explore the world of hearing aids. Hearing aid technology has evolved to provide cutting-edge solutions designed to fit seamlessly into your lifestyle, providing enriching sounds of life and supporting your cognitive wellbeing. Make an appointment to begin your journey or truly make a positive impact on your life or the life of someone you care about. Hearing better Together.
Don’t let hearing loss hold you back from the rich and fulfilling life you deserve. Book an appointment to learn more about how hearing aids and aural rehabilitation can make a positive difference to our quality of life. Research indicates that getting hearing aids and rehabilitative services much earlier in the course of hearing impairment may even stem the development of dementia.
Here’s to a future filled with the joys of hearing and a sharper mind!
- Deal JA, Betz J, Yaffe K, et al. Hearing impairment and incident dementia and cognitive decline in older adults: the Health ABC Study. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2017;72(5):703-709. https://doi:10.1093/gerona/glw069.
- Lin FR, Yaffe K, Xia J, et al. Hearing loss and cognitive decline in older adults. JAMA Intern Med. 2013;173(4):293-299. https://doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.1868.
- Cantuaria ML, Pedersen ER, Waldorff FB, et al. Hearing Loss, Hearing Aid Use, and Risk of Dementia in Older Adults. JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. Published online January 4, 2024. https://doi:10.1001/jamaoto.2023.3509.
- Maharani A, Dawes P, Nazroo J, Tampubolon G, Pendleton N; SENSE-Cog WP1 group. Longitudinal relationship between hearing aid use and cognitive function in older Americans. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2018;66(6):1130-1136. https://doi:10.1111/jgs.15356.
- Gallacher J, Ilubaera V, Ben-Shlomo Y, et al. Auditory threshold, phonologic demand, and incident dementia. Neurology. 2012;79(15): 1583-1590. https://doi.org/10.1212/WNL.0b013e31826e263d.
- Koops EA, de Kleine E, van Dijk P. (2020). Gray matter declines with age and hearing loss, but is partially maintained in tinnitus. Scientific reports. 2020;10(1):21801. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-78571-0
- Manno FAM, Rodríguez-Cruces R, Kumar R, Ratnanather JT, Lau C. Hearing loss impacts gray and white matter across the lifespan: Systematic review, meta-analysis and meta-regression. Neuroimage. 2021;231:117826. https://doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2021.117826
- Gelfand SA, Silman S, Ross L. Long-term effects of monaural, binaural and no amplification in subjects with bilateral hearing loss. Scandinavian Audiology 1987;16(4): 417 201-207. https://doi:10.3109/01050398709074941.