Hearing Aids and Improving Aging Gracefully

SOMERSET, NJ October 29 — It is well-established that untreated hearing loss can lead to an acceleration of cognitive problems. A just-published study in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society is the first to show that wearing hearing aids reduces cognitive decline associated with hearing loss. The study, “Self-Reported Hearing Loss: Hearing Aids and Cognitive Decline in Elderly Adults: A 25-year Study”, followed 3,670 adults, age 65 and older over a 25-year period.  Professor Hélène Amieva, a leading researcher in the Neuropsychology and Epidemiology of Aging at the University of Bordeaux, France, headed up the study which was part of the Personnes Agèes QUID cohort (PAQUID), a cohort specifically designed to study brain aging. Researchers compared the trajectory of cognitive decline among older adults who were using hearing aids and those who were not.  The study found no difference in the rate of cognitive decline between a control group of people with no reported hearing loss and people with hearing loss who used hearing aids.  By contrast, hearing loss was significantly associated with lower baseline scores on the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), a well-recognized test of cognitive function, during the 25-year follow-up period, independent of age, sex and education.

The early findings of the study were shared by Professor Amieva at a professional conference sponsored by Oticon, Inc., attended by more than 1000 hearing care professionals.

“The study indicates that people with hearing loss who wear hearing aids have the same risk for age-related cognitive decline as people without hearing loss,” says Donald Schum, PhD, Vice President of Audiology and Professional Practice for Oticon, Inc.  “But cognitive decline is accelerated for the people who have hearing loss and don’t use hearing aids. With this study, we are seeing for the first time evidence that hearing aids are a prevention against accelerated cognitive decline in later years.  That’s a powerful motivator for the more than 75% of people with hearing loss who could benefit from hearing aids but are reluctant to address their hearing health.”

Source: Oticon

Research paper: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26480972