People with hearing loss in Charleston have a higher risk of developing a number of physical, social and psychological side effects. These include stress, anxiety, withdrawal, depression, memory loss and cognitive decline. Dementia is especially prevalent among adults with hearing loss, according to results from several large-scale studies. New research shows that hearing aids could help delay the onset of dementia in Charleston patients.
The Link Between Hearing Loss and Dementia
Hearing loss has been a well-established risk factor for dementia for a number of years. A long-term French study published in March, 2018 was the latest in a series of research studies to find an increased prevalence of dementia in people with untreated hearing loss. The study tracked 3,700 participants over a 25-year period and found that individuals over the age of 65 were 35 percent more likely to develop dementia. That risk increased another 20 percent for each additional 10-decibel loss in hearing ability. The results mirrored those found in studies by other groups such as Johns Hopkins University and the Lancet Commission on Dementia Prevention, Intervention and Care.
The obvious question has been whether hearing aids might help offset these effects. New research by a team from the University of Exeter and King’s College London finds evidence that these devices do, in fact, help mitigate the risk.
The study involved 25,000 people aged 50 and over with hearing loss. They were divided into two groups: those who wore hearing aids, and those who did not. Participants in each group were given annual cognitive tests over a two-year period. The group who wore hearing aids scored higher on working memory and attention tests, displaying faster reaction times and better concentration than the group who did not use hearing aids.
Lead researcher Dr. Anne Corbett says, “Previous research has shown that hearing loss is linked to a loss of brain function, memory and an increased risk of dementia. Our work is one of the largest studies to look at the impact of wearing a hearing aid and suggests that wearing a hearing aid could actually protect the brain. We now need more research and a clinical trial to test this and perhaps feed into policy to help keep people healthy in later life.”
Adds Professor Clive Ballard, “The message here is that if you’re advised you need a hearing aid, find one that works for you. At the very least it will improve your hearing and it could help keep your brain sharp too.”
For more information on steps you can take to reduce your risk of dementia and other conditions associated with hearing loss, speak to a Charleston hearing professional.