New study shows some older adults who wear hearing aids reduced dementia risk

A new study based at Johns Hopkins that included USF researchers appears to show an important connection between hearing and cognitive decline. The study showed that for some older adults, wearing a hearing aid slowed their cognitive decline by nearly half.

"Hearing intervention is great. It can improve communication and quality of life, but now we have even more evidence that it improves much more than communication and the results revealed today are just the start," said Dr. Victoria Sanchez, a researcher at USF.

Audiologists like Tampa's Dr. Amanda King have long advocated that everyone should get a hearing test by age 55. She believes what we're not able to hear takes a toll. 

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"The less we hear, the less we monitor, that's what we've been saying for years, that it can have long term effects on our brain and how we process," said King. 

With new generations of hearing aids getting progressively tinier and younger people regularly wearing ear buds, hearing aids seem to be merging with other devices.

"Most of them connect to your smartphone now, iPhone compaitbility is seamless," said King. 

In the new study, older adults classified at risk of cognitive decline, who used hearing aids for three years, slowed cognitive decline by 48%. 

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"Now with this type of data that we're able to share today, we can really start making bigger statements," said Sanchez. 

She and King believe evidence of even more connections between hearing and cognitive decline will be revealed in future studies.