Now hear this: Wearing a hearing aid later in life may help preserve brain function over time.
Recent findings support the theory that having an effective hearing aid can protect the brain and reduce the risk of dementia. Previous studies have shown that hearing loss is an important risk factor for dementia.
Researchers at two English universities studied two groups of people who were given annual cognitive tests during a two-year period. Those who wore hearing aids performed better on tests that assessed their working memory and aspects of attention than those who did not wear hearing devices.
People who wore hearing aids also showed a stronger ability to concentrate than those who did not have the devices. During the tests, hearing aid users reacted more quickly when they heard a sound or needed to concentrate on someone speaking.
According to the National Institutes of Health, an estimated 17 percent of American adults have reported some form of hearing loss. Nearly half of all people over age 75 have a hearing impairment. Among those with hearing loss, 16 percent of people under age 70 and 30 percent of those over age 70 have used hearing aids.
While researchers stressed additional research is needed, they noted their findings are ultimately encouraging. That’s because they build on existing research that shows dementia risk can be reduced by one-third if interventions begin in mid-life.
So, if your doctor suggests that it’s time for you to consider getting hearing aids, don’t tune her out. Your brain and ears, as well as your partner who is tired of repeating everything to you, will thank you.