Hearing aids may help with more than just your ears. A recent study has found a positive correlation between the use of hearing aids and a lower risk of depression or dementia.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 40 million Americans suffer from some kind of hearing loss and, of those with a diagnosis, only 12% (under the age of 69) use hearing aids – even if they have health insurance.
A recent study, published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, by University of Michigan, showed a positive relation between mental health and the use of hearing devices, resulting in a reduced probability of getting diagnosed with dementia or depression, along with a reduction in fall related injuries.
Dr. David Loughrey, a research psychologist working on hearing and cognition, talked about the subject, saying, “Older people with hearing loss who wear hearing aids may be better educated or may socialize more, factors which are also associated with a reduced risk of dementia”.
According to the study, using hearing aids showed an 18% reduction in the risk of getting diagnosed with dementia and Alzheimer’s, in the first 3 years of hearing loss, as compared to the people who didn’t use them. By the end of 3 years, the risk was 11% lower for hearing aid users.
Not only depression and other mental health problems, the use also showed a decrease in fall related injuries – 13% lower than the patients who didn’t use them. Several studies have shown a relation between the loss of hearing with changes in the brain. Loss of stimulation may lead to a lower activity of the parts of brain associated with memory and regulating mood.
According to Loughrey, “Difficulties in following conversation in noisy environments may cause adults with hearing loss to withdraw and become more socially isolated, which is associated with a higher risk of depression and dementia”.
As the sounds are amplified, the inactive cells are triggered and forced to ‘’relay sounds to the brain”, resulting in an improved mental health.