senior man hard of hearingAccording to a new study in the Journal of American Geriatrics Society, the use of hearing devices may help seniors reduce their risk of dementia, depression and anxiety, walking problems and falling. Research shows nearly one in four people aged 65 – 74 in the United States suffer from hearing loss; this figure jumps to one in two over the age of 75.

Unfortunately, many people who would benefit from hearing aids choose not to wear them.

About the Study

Lead Researcher Elham Mahmoudi, PH.D. from the University of Michigan said, “We already know that people with hearing loss have more adverse health events and more co-existing conditions, but this study allows us to see the effects of an intervention and look for associations between hearing aids and health outcomes.”

The University of Michigan’s Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation was the location for this study. Researchers analyzed data from 115,000 individuals over 66 years old with some level of hearing loss. Participants’ health was tracked from one year before their diagnosis to three years afterward, so the researchers could pinpoint any new diagnoses of dementia, depression, anxiety or fall injuries.

Implications for Seniors

The researchers noticed significant differences between the outcomes of those with hearing loss who did wear a hearing aid compared to those who did not. Wearing a hearing aid reduced:

  • Relative risk of being diagnosed with dementia by 18 percent
  • Relative risk of being diagnosed with depression or anxiety by 11 percent
  • Relative risk of fall-related injuries by 13 percent 

Previous research has looked into the links between hearing loss, dementia and mental health conditions. Some experts believe that social isolation, which sometimes comes with hearing loss, might result in less stimulation for the brain and overall cognitive decline.

“Though hearing aids can’t be said to prevent these conditions, a delay in the onset of dementia, depression and anxiety, and the risk of serious falls could be significant for both the patient and the costs to the Medicare system,” Mahmoudi said.
Avon Health Center provides specialized care for older adults suffering from dementia and other age-related ailments. To learn more about admission to our facility, contact us today!