Does hearing affect our mental abilities?
Recently there has been a lot of research questioning whether hearing loss affects long-term cognitive function. Cognitive function refers to mental abilities such as learning, thinking, problem-solving, memory, and decision-making.
The body of knowledge around this question is increasing, so I’ve summarized the most recent article published in January 2020 for you.
Here is the link to the study.
Who took part:
The study examined the effect of hearing aid use on cognitive function in adults aged 60-84 years with mild to moderate hearing.
99 adults filled in a comprehensive baseline assessment questionnaire that measured:
- Speech perception testing
- Cognitive screening and assessment
- Quality of life
- Ease of listening
Then the participants were fit with hearing aids and reassessed on these measures 18 months later.
What the study found:
18 months after being fitted with hearing aids, the participants showed improved speech perception both objectively (fact-based) and subjectively (based on feeling).
Almost 2/3 of the group reported the hearing aids significantly improved their ability to hear and communicate.
The study also found a significant improvement in cognitive function across the whole group for executive function, the skills we use every day to learn and manage life.
And for women:
For women, after 18 months using hearing aids there was also a clinically significant improvement in:
- Working memory
- Visual attention
- Visual learning
Their self-reported overall quality of life was also significantly improved.
There’s still more to learn:
The researchers acknowledge the small sample size. Based on the design of the study, we can’t determine any cause-and-effect relationships. However, it does show that hearing aid use may be correlated with improved cognitive function after 18 months of hearing aid use. Further studies are needed to confirm whether the use of hearing aids can delay or mitigate the effects of cognitive decline.
This study highlights how important it is to identify hearing loss in adults early on so that an appropriate treatment plan can be put in place. If you’ve already had your hearing tested – you’re on the right track. If it has been more than two years since your last hearing evaluation, or if you have been noticing changes in your hearing, we recommend you make an appointment with one of our Audiologists.
Broadmead Hearing Clinic: 250-479-2969 or Oak Bay Hearing Clinic: 250-479-2921.