A recent study conducted by Dr. Frank Lin, a hearing specialist and epidemiologist, found a positive correlation between hearing loss and cognitive decline. The study, which began in 1997-1998, followed 1,984 older adults who participated over a long period of time. At the time the participants engaged in the study, the mean age was 77 years old and no participants had evidence of cognitive impairment. Then in 2001 and 2002, participants received cognitive tests and hearing tests. The tests were then repeated three, five, and six years after the initial test.
Dr. Lin found that annual rates of cognitive decline were 41 percent greater in older adults with hearing loss than in those without. This is an extremely important finding given the fact that almost two-thirds of adults age 70 and older have hearing loss. We feel this couldn’t be more true. It is extremely important to get your hearing checked annually as you age, just as you get your vision checked. Hearing ability can change rapidly, so if you notice any sudden change in hearing ability for you or a loved one, don’t hesitate to take action. Not only is it important for maintaining cognitive ability, but it could also be indicative of underlying health problem. A professional, comprehensive hearing evaluation is usually covered by most health insurance plans on an annual basis, much like vision examinations.
A link to the summary article in the New York Times.
A link to the technical report from JAMA.