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Hearing Aid Usage Linked to Slower Mental Decline, says French Study

10/11/2015

Hearing Aid Usage Linked to Slower Mental Decline, says French StudyA French study, which followed thousands of seniors over a period of 25 years, has found that hearing aids may slow mental decline in hard-of-hearing elderly individuals.

Previous studies have shown a link between hearing loss and steeper cognitive decline in later years, but only now has that relationship been tracked over such a long period.

Helene Amieva, lead author of the study, said: "With a large sample size and 25 years of follow-up of participants, this study clearly confirms that hearing loss is associated with cognitive decline in older adults. Using hearing aids attenuates cognitive decline in elders presenting with hearing loss."

Amieva, who is a researcher at the University of Bordeaux here in France, said that around 30% of people over 65 years old experience some degree of hearing loss. That percentage rises significantly to almost 90% for people aged 85 and older.

The individuals who participated in the study were recruited back in 1989-1990 and were observed while living at home, rather than institutional settings.

Over the 25-year period, the participants answered 12 questionnaires in total, as well as undergoing psychological examinations to better assess their cognitive skills.

Participants who had hearing loss were more likely to score lower on the mental health screenings and experience greater cognitive decline over the 25-year period.

However, those who used hearing aids suffered from the same rate of cognitive decline as those with no hearing loss, according to the study.

"These results underline the importance of addressing the problem of under-diagnosis and under-treatment of hearing loss in elderly adults," Amieva told Reuters Health.

 

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