Hearing Aid Benefits May Extend to Dementia Prevention, Study Finds

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Ability to stay engaged in conversation could help ward off dementia, study suggests
Ability to stay engaged in conversation could help ward off dementia, study suggests

HealthDay News — New research suggests that hearing aids might help prevent or slow the development of dementia in elderly people with hearing loss. The study was published online April 25 in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.

More than half of people older than 75 have hearing loss. But fewer than 15% of those with hearing loss use a hearing aid, the researchers said. The study included 100 adults, aged 80 to 99, with hearing loss who underwent audiometric evaluation, the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), and the Trail Making Test, Part B (TMT-B). 

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Use of hearing aids was associated with better performance on the MMSE but had no effect on TMT-B performance. The authors write that the findings suggest that hearing loss is associated with sensory-specific cognitive decline rather than global cognitive impairment.

"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," Anil Lalwani, MD, a professor of otolaryngology/head and neck surgery at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City, said in a news release.

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