Connecting the dots- Hearing aids help stop the progression of cognitive decline

11/13/2015

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Not too long ago, the importance of good hearing to mental and physical health wasn’t on the average person’s radar. Today, much more is known about how these are connected.  Recent studies show that hearing health is closely tied to the health of the heart and brain. Now, more people realize how even mild hearing loss increases the risk of cognitive decline; those with moderate hearing have triple the risk of developing dementia than the average person.

Knowing that hearing loss increases the risk of conditions like Alzheimer’s and dementia, it seems only natural to ask if treating hearing loss would slow down or stop cognitive decline. Luckily, a twenty-five year study at the University of Bordeaux, France was already underway and set to answer that question.

The study at the University of Bordeaux followed 3,670 people aged 65+ for twenty-five years. There were three groups in this study: those with hearing loss who used hearing aids; those with hearing loss who did not use hearing aids; and those without any hearing loss. The study compared the cognitive abilities of those three groups and found that people with hearing loss who used hearing aids were no more likely to experience cognitive decline than those with no hearing loss. That’s huge! Hearing aids helped the brain to resist cognitive decline associated with hearing loss. People with hearing loss who did not use hearing aids echoed prior studies and showed marked cognitive decline.

If you have hearing loss and haven’t chosen to use hearing aids yet, there’s more good news. Not only does this study suggest cognitive decline can be halted through the use of hearing aids, another study published in March in the journal showed hearing instruments alongside auditory rehabilitation helped reverse lower cognitive scores of people with hearing loss related cognitive decline. A remarkable 80% of people with hearing loss had marked cognitive improvement after only a year of treatment.

With healthy hearing tied so closely to brain health individuals experiencing hearing loss may take a new look at hearing healthcare. In fact, as hearing takes its rightful place as an essential part of a healthy lifestyle, hearing clinics are becoming a common community staple. Don’t know where to look to find a local clinic? No worries. We’ve got you covered. Find a clinic near you.

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