Hearing Aid Use Associated with Improved Cognitive Function in Elderly
A study conducted by researchers at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) found that older adults who used a hearing aid performed significantly better on cognitive tests than those who did not use a hearing aid, despite having poorer hearing.
The researchers also found that cognitive function was directly related to hearing ability in participants who did not use a hearing aid.
More than half of adults over age 75 have hearing loss, yet less than 15 percent of the hearing impaired use a hearing aid device. Previous studies have shown that the hearing-impaired elderly have a higher incidence of fall- and accident-related death, social isolation, and dementia than those without hearing loss. Studies have also demonstrated that hearing aid use can improve the social, functional, and emotional consequences of hearing loss.
“We know that hearing aids can keep older adults with hearing loss more socially engaged by providing an important bridge to the outside world,” said Anil K. Lalwani, MD, professor of otolaryngology/head and neck surgery at Columbia and otolaryngologist at NewYork-Presbyterian/CUMC and NewYork-Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital. “In this study, we wanted to determine if they could also slow the effects of aging on cognitive function.”
“Our study suggests that using a hearing aid may offer a simple, yet important, way to prevent or slow the development of dementia by keeping adults with hearing loss engaged in conversation and communication,” said Dr. Lalwani.