A new study from the University of Melbourne has found the use of hearing aids may delay cognitive decline and even improve brain function in senior Australians.
In the study, which has been published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine, researchers tested the use of hearing aids in almost 100 adults aged 62-82 years who had some level of hearing loss.
The participants were assessed on their hearing, cognitive function, speech perception, quality of life, physical activity, loneliness, mood and medical health - both before and 18 months after having a hearing aid fitted.
The researchers found that, after wearing the hearing aids for 18 months, the speech perception, listening and quality of life of the participants had significantly improved.
More than 97 per cent of participants showed either significant improvement or stability in executive function, which is categorised as the ability to plan, organise information and initiate tasks.
Bupa welcomed the research and encouraged anyone who is having trouble with their hearing to get a test.
According to Simon Davis, the head of Audiology at Bupa Hearing, “We know cognitive decline worsens with hearing loss – there is a clear link.
“In Australia, nearly 1 in 10 people over the age of 65 have dementia, and it is the leading cause of disability within this age cohort. Further medical research on the link between hearing loss and cognitive decline and brain function is important, including the role of hearing aids and cochlear implants in delaying the onset of cognitive decline,” continued Mr Davis.
“The study found regular use of hearing aids was associated with greater improvements in cognitive function, and women were much more diligent at wearing hearing aids than men. Today’s hearing aids are more discreet than they used to be and offer a range of improved functions, such as better performance in noisy environments, reduced wind noise as well as wireless connectivity.”
“It’s important to speak to your audiologist about your hearing aid or aids if you don’t like wearing them. Audiologists can adjust it or find a different one to suit your needs. The most important thing is to wear it regularly. Hearing aids could help keep you sharper for longer and enjoying life to its fullest,” added Mr Davis.