Hearing Aids Could Slow Mental Decline

December 12th, 2015 | Posted by admin in Uncategorized

For seniors who have trouble hearing, the use of hearing aids may alleviate potential mental decline or stress. Hearing loss has previously been linked to a decline in cognitive ability and emotional stability among older adults.

According to the American Journal of Geriatrics, a study conducted by the University of Bordeaux in France focused on a group of seniors, drawing data from over 25 years of research. The results indicate strong connections between hearing loss and the development of other conditions, especially a drop in cognitive skills. Likewise the study found that hearing aids may be effective at alleviating these risks.

Problems caused by hearing loss
The American Academy of Audiology stated that hearing loss among the elderly can be a very serious ailment. Left unrecognized or untreated, older adults suffering from hearing loss are more prone to depression, anxiety or paranoia. Likewise, those living with impaired hearing may avoid organized social events at senior living facilities or feel alienated and isolated during family gatherings. The research conducted by the University of Bordeaux may add another symptom of hearing loss, namely, cognitive decline.

The CBC reported that the study began in 1990, and scientists used a group of 3,700 adults age 65 or older to monitor mental health and abilities. Using repeated surveys and psychological exams over the course of the 25-year research period, the goal was to assess the cognitive skills and attitudes of older adults with hearing problems overtime.

According to the CBC, 137 people initially reported major hearing loss, and roughly 1,100 had moderate trouble with hearing. The remaining 2,400 participants had no such issues at the onset of the research. Helene Amieva, lead author of the study, reported that in France roughly 30 percent of older adults have some sort of hearing issue, and that number jumps to over 70 percent in seniors 85 and older. 

Researchers employed assessments often used with patients living with dementia as a way of tracking participants' cognitive abilities over time. There were tests on physical capabilities as well.

A significant association was reported between declining hearing ability and the results of the mental health screenings, according to the CBC. In general, seniors with hearing loss had lower scores than those without any impairments. A decline or aversion to communicating and socializing may decrease cognitive abilities, as well as exacerbate any emotional symptoms associated with hearing loss.

Helpful hearing aids
Importantly, older adults who had suffered hearing loss but used hearing aids saw much less severe rates of cognitive decline, and people wearing assistive devices exhibited results more analogous to participants who suffered no hearing loss at all.

Previous studies have found lower levels of depression or feelings of social anxiety in older adults using hearing aids, according to the American Academy of Audiology.  Despite this, 3 out of 5 older adults in the U.S. do not wear such devices. 

The French researchers believe their research may inform future diagnoses among health professionals, and seniors may need help with installing, using and maintaining their hearing aids. Programs addressing listening and communication skills may also prove useful for older adults.

Amieva said of the findings, "underline the importance of addressing the problem of under-diagnosis and under-treatment of hearing loss in elderly adults."

According to the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association, access to assistive devices can sometimes be difficult, and coverage varies by province. Hearing aids currently fall under extended coverage under many provincial programs, and for that reason, devices and care may be different depending on where you live.

In some situations, hearing aids, support or even cochlear implants may be available for qualified seniors. In other areas, however, the level of coverage from the government is much more limited. For that reason, any senior interested in a hearing aid should consult with a family member or primary care physician. 

Source: Sunrise Senior Living

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 You can leave a response, or trackback.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *