New York : A team of US researchers, including an Indian-origin scientist, has found that older adults who used a hearing aid performed significantly better on cognitive tests than those who did not use a hearing aid despite having poorer hearing.
The findings showed that hearing aids can keep older adults with hearing loss more socially engaged, prevent the development of dementia as well as slow down the effects of ageing on cognitive function.
In contrast, elderly people who are hearing impaired and do not use a hearing aid are at an increased risk of sensory-specific decline in mental skills.
“We know that hearing aids can keep older adults with hearing loss more socially engaged by providing an important bridge to the outside world,” said Anil Lalwani, professor and otolaryngologist at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) in the US.
In the study, published online in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, the researchers wanted to determine if they could also slow the effects of ageing on cognitive function.
The team included 100 adults with hearing loss between the ages of 80 and 99. Of the participants, 34 regularly used a hearing aid. Audiometry tests were performed to measure the degree of hearing loss. Cognitive and executive functions of the participants were also assessed.
“Our study suggests that using a hearing aid may offer a simple, yet important, way to prevent or slow the development of dementia by keeping adults with hearing loss engaged in conversation and communication,” Lalwani explained.