Hearing loss undertreated, despite evidence that hearing aids reduce depression, anxiety

Hearing loss is undertreated among adults, despite evidence that hearing aid technology can reduce depression and anxiety and improve cognitive functioning, according to a presentation at the American Psychological Association Annual Convention.

“Many hard of hearing people battle silently with their invisible hearing difficulties, straining to stay connected to the world around them, reluctant to seek help,” David Myers, PhD, of Hope College in Holland, Michigan, said in a press release.

A study from the National Council on Aging with a cohort of 2,304 individuals with hearing loss found that participants who did not use hearing aids were 50% more likely to experience sadness or depression than participants who did wear them.

Additionally, individuals who used hearing aids were significantly more likely to regularly participate in social activities.

Another study, published in the Archives of Neurology, found that hearing loss may be a risk factor for dementia. Years of sensory loss may increase susceptibility to dementia, according to the study’s researchers.

Further, social isolation, which is common among individuals with hearing loss, is a known risk factor for dementia and other cognitive disorders, Myers said.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, individuals with hearing loss wait an average of 6 years from the first symptoms of hearing loss before seeking treatment, and adults aged 20 to 69 years who have hearing loss are 50% less likely to use hearing aids compared with adults aged 70 years or older.

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