Older adults with more significant degrees of hearing loss also have a significantly higher risk of dementia, according to Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health researchers. A new study, published in January 2023, also found a lower prevalence of dementia in those who wore hearing aids.
With a growing number of studies finding associations between hearing loss and cognitive decline, this latest research reinforces the possibility of hearing loss as a contributor to dementia. Addressing hearing loss through use of hearing aids could reduce dementia risk, according to researchers, further supporting the importance of hearing health care for overall health.
Both hearing loss and dementia rates have been steadily climbing over the years. According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 55 million people currently live with dementia. Based on these trends, it is predicted that this population will reach 139 million by 2025. Hearing loss, estimated as affecting 1.5 billion children and adults worldwide, could climb to more than 2.5 billion people by 2050.
Increasingly, research points to hearing aid technology’s benefit to brain health. For example:
In a study published by the National Library of Medicine, titled “Hearing Loss and Dementia Prevalence in Older Adults in the US,” researchers sought a more nationally representative estimate of links between the two conditions. They also sought a closer look at potential effects of hearing aid use on dementia.
Using data from the National Health and Aging Trends Study, which involves U.S. Medicare beneficiaries older than 65, researchers found that older adults living with more severe hearing loss were also at greater risk of dementia. They uncovered a 61% higher prevalence of dementia among those with moderate or severe hearing loss. Furthermore, researchers have associated hearing aid use with 32% lower dementia prevalence among those with moderate or severe loss. Though reasons for the links aren’t yet fully known, researchers emphasize the need for access to hearing help for overall cognitive health and wellness.
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