Whether we like it or not, we’re all growing older. And, with advancing age, come physical and mental changes that can sometimes make life more difficult. Cognitive decline is one side effect of aging that is often perceived as unavoidable. But, what if something could be done to prevent or slow its arrival?
According to a recent study referenced in Medical News Today, there is promising evidence that wearing hearing aids may help reduce the risk of cognitive decline. Researchers studied individuals with hearing loss and how wearing hearing aids for 18 months affected their cognitive abilities. Let’s look at some of the specifics.
Hearing loss and cognitive decline – is there a connection?
Unfortunately, hearing loss is often another side effect of aging, affecting a significant amount of the population over the age of 65. And, the percentage grows even higher in the ‘above 85’ age group.
Individuals with hearing loss often experience social isolation, depression, anxiety, and loneliness, especially if they let their hearing changes go untreated. This, in turn, can lead to cognitive changes and overall cognitive decline. Researchers in this latest study wanted to find out whether or not wearing hearing aids could change the outcome and have a positive effect on cognition over time.
Results of the study
The study followed the progress of 99 adults with hearing loss who were between the ages of 62 and 82. Before they began wearing hearing aids, their cognitive function was measured. It was assessed again after 18 months. Here is what the researchers discovered:
- Improved speech perceptions – The participants reported that after wearing hearing aids, they were better able to understand speech, especially in quiet settings.
- Significant improvement in executive function – While several cognitive markers showed little or no improvement, participants did show great gains in the area of executive function. These are cognitive skills that enable us to manage daily life, including memory, flexible thinking, and behavior control.
- Increased quality of life – Over the 18 month period, study participants noted quality of life improvements after wearing hearing aids.
Conclusion: Cognitive decline can be influenced by hearing aids
The bottom line is that further research needs to be done to fully understand the connection between hearing loss and cognitive decline. However, this study is promising in that it showed significant cognitive improvements in individuals with hearing loss after just 18 months of wearing hearing aids.
Even if hearing loss treatment doesn’t completely prevent dementia or cognitive decline, it could play a role in delaying their onset. Why not stack the odds in your favor and see what kind of difference hearing aids could make for YOU? Schedule an appointment with your audiologist today for a thorough hearing evaluation … when you can hear better, you’ll live better, too!
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