Hearing Aid Use is Associated with Improved Cognitive Function in Hearing-Impaired Elderly
Older persons are notoriously unwilling to use hearing aids. But a new 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 study was published online in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. 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. The study included 100 adults with hearing loss between the ages of 80 and 99. Hearing aid users, who had worse hearing than non-users, performed significantly (1.9 points) better on tests of cognitive and motor functioning. Among non-users, participants with more hearing loss also had lower MMSE scores than those with greater hearing levels.