Hearing Aids Slow Cognitive Decline…Dramatic New Study

As the global population ages, the prevalence of dementia and cognitive decline in older adults is on the rise,
necessitating cost-effective interventions to prevent or slow age-related cognitive deterioration.

Research has linked hearing loss to dementia in older individuals, suggesting that hearing aid use could potentially mitigate cognitive decline. However, until a recent NIH-funded study led by Dr. Frank Lin at Johns Hopkins University, these links had not been rigorously examined in a large, randomized trial.

The study enrolled nearly 1,000 adults aged 70 to 84, comparing the three-year cognitive decline rates of those who received hearing aids to those who did not. Participants with substantial hearing loss were drawn from two study populations: 250 from an ongoing heart health study and 739 from surrounding communities. Those from the heart health study had higher dementia risk factors.

The analysis revealed that those at higher dementia risk from the heart health study who used hearing aids experienced a nearly 50% reduction in cognitive decline rates compared to the health education group. The study underscores the potential of hearing loss treatment to curb cognitive decline, especially in those at greater dementia risk. Dr. Frank Lin emphasized that addressing hearing loss in later life is a critical public health target for reducing dementia risk. Further investigation continues, including brain scans and social engagement data to better understand this connection.

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