If you had the chance to prevent or lessen the risk of cognitive decline as you grew older, how much would you be inclined to pay for it?
What would you say to $15 per week? That’s about the cost of an expertly-programmed set of hearing aids, which the latest research shows can minimize the risk of cognitive decline in seniors with hearing loss.
Hearing Loss and Cognitive Decline
A recent study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that “self-reported hearing loss is associated with accelerated cognitive decline in older adults; hearing aid use attenuates such decline.”
The study followed 3,670 adults age 65 and older through a 25 year duration. The study observed that the rate of cognitive decline was higher in those with hearing loss in comparison to those with normal hearing. But the participants with hearing loss who utilized hearing aids showed no difference in the level of cognitive decline compared to those with normal hearing.
Several studies out of Johns Hopkins University have also confirmed that hearing loss is associated with hastened cognitive decline, depression, and in some instances even dementia.
So, hearing loss can produce hastened rates of cognitive decline, but wearing hearing aids can protect against this decline. The question is, how does hearing loss trigger cognitive decline?
A generally acknowledged theory is that hearing loss has a tendency to limit social interaction and stimulation to the auditory areas of the brain, producing changes in brain chemistry and structure. These modifications are believed to account for the drop in cognitive function as well as the onset of depressive signs and symptoms.
Hearing Loss and Mortality
An additional study out of Johns Hopkins University examined 1,666 adults age 70 or older who had been given a hearing examination. The participants were put into three categories: (1) no hearing loss, (2) mild hearing loss, and (3) moderate to severe hearing loss. Then, mortality was analyzed for each group, with the following results, as announced by Johns Hopkins researchers:
“Interestingly, after adjusting for demographic characteristics and cardiovascular risk factors, their results suggested that moderate or more severe hearing loss was associated with a 39% increased risk of mortality, while a mild hearing loss had a 21% increased risk of mortality, compared to those with normal hearing.”
This is not to suggest that hearing loss directly has an effect on mortality rates, but instead that the negative effects of hearing loss can. Hearing loss has been shown to result in cognitive decline and reduced levels of social interaction and physical activity. This translates to changes to the brain and diminished physical and social activity levels, which more obviously can influence mortality rates.
Hearing Aids Can Help
The real price of hearing loss, therefore, is far more than just inconvenience or missing out on a couple of conversations. Hearing loss could compromise your mental, physical, and social health—and potentially even your life.
As additional research is published, and as we become more informed on the real costs of hearing loss, $15 per week for a pair of premium hearing aids will seem like nothing at all.