By Michele DiStefano, Director of Audiology
As an audiologist at the Center for Hearing and Communication (CHC), I frequently discuss with my clients the importance of hearing health and the impact it can have on our mental health. Lately, though, I don't have to raise the topic—my clients are doing that for me.
Hearing Aids and Cognitive Decline
A landmark study recently published in The Lancet— and picked up by media outlets everywhere—finds that treating hearing loss through the use of hearing aids can lower the rate of cognitive decline in at-risk adults by 48%. (Yes, you read that right.)
This is an important new finding that underscores just how critical it is to identify and promptly treat hearing loss, especially in older adults. I'm so glad the word is getting out and people appear to be taking positive action as a result.
Hearing Impacts Our Health in Many Ways
The latest study adds to a significant body of research that conclusively links hearing and cognitive health. We've known for some time that untreated hearing loss puts older adults at risk for cognitive decline and dementia. Hearing loss, in fact, is well-established as the number one modifiable risk factor in preventing dementia and cognitive decline.
But we also know that hearing issues can have a negative impact on our physical health as well. Untreated hearing loss is linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, falls and hospitalizations.
What You Can Do
Given all of this, it is so important to obtain a complete hearing evaluation as soon as you notice any difficulties hearing and communicating. Once you have this evaluation, the audiologist can better guide you on your need for hearing aids and which type of hearing aids—prescription or over-the-counter—might be appropriate.
Join me in helping to spread the word that hearing health matters. If you know someone struggling with untreated hearing issues, encourage them to see an audiologist and get their hearing tested. Their health depends on it!