Using hearing aids helps people listen to the world around them. But recent research also suggests these medical devices can stave off dementia.
A review of more than two dozen studies, published in the American Medical Association journal JAMA Neurology, concluded that older adults who have hearing loss and use hearing aids were 19% less likely to experience cognitive decline than those who do not treat their hearing deficiency.
A secondary analysis found that cognitive testing of patients both before and after they started using hearing aids revealed that the patients’ cognitive scores increased 3% on average once they started using the medical devices.
Fortunately, hearing aids are now easier to obtain than ever before.
Last year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration created a new category of over-the-counter hearing aids that allowed consumers to purchase these devices without a medical exam or prescription.
Soon after, Walmart and other retailers announced that they would begin selling such lower-cost hearing aids, designed for people with mild to moderate hearing loss.
Other research has also found a link between hearing loss and increased risk of dementia. A 2020 study published in The Lancet found that hearing loss doubles the risk of developing dementia for older adults.
It is suspected that as hearing loss causes people to withdraw socially, the resulting isolation causes a decline in brain function as unstimulated brain cells cease to function.
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