A new study by a British university confirms the view that the use of hearing aids is strongly linked to a lower rate of age-related mental decline.
Researchers at Manchester University came to their conclusion after examining the results of an 18 year-long study of retired Americans, which measured their mental performance every two years. Those who wore hearing aids did better in the years after their hearing aids were fitted than they had previously.
Similar results were seen in another study among Europeans who underwent cataract eye surgery. According to Dr Piers Dawes, one of the academics leading the research, it showed that cognitive (or mental) decline which affects memory and thinking skills slows down after patient’s hearing and sight are improved. The rate of decline was 75% less following the adoption of hearing aids and was halved following cataract surgery.
is colleague, Dr Asri Maharani, said: “Age is one of the most important factors implicated in cognitive decline. We find that hearing and vision interventions may slow it down and perhaps prevent some cases of dementia, which is exciting - though we can’t say yet that this is a causal relationship.”
Karen Finch, one of the region’s leading audiologists, has welcomed the study's findings, saying the work underlined the importance of regular hearing and eye tests.
“Although the research team aren’t sure why hearing and eye problems have an impact on cognitive decline, they suggest that isolation, stigma and the resultant lack of physical activity that are linked to these problems might have something to do with it,” she said.
“This fits in with our own experiences. Most people who come to us for help after suffering for some time, report that their hearing loss has made it difficult to communicate either with family or friends. They find watching TV or visiting the cinema an impossible experience and avoid social outings for fear of embarrassment as they mishear what’s being said.”
Karen agreed with the academics’ suggestion that better adult screening to identify both hearing and vision problems was needed and that hearing loss in particular should be de-medicalised.
“In 99% of cases, hearing loss is not a medical issue,” says Karen. “It is simply a result of growing old. GP’s are not really geared up to deal with patients who report hearing loss and hospitals are already so financially stretched, some have even placed a cap on who can seek hearing help.”
If you want to find out more about improving your hearing please speak to one of our expert audiologists on 01473 230330.