Hearing Aids May Improve Brain Function and Memory for Older Adults

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For older adults, one of the most prevalent health related issue they experience, is hearing loss. Unfortunately, age-related hearing loss is linked to cognitive decline, social isolation and even depression.

On a positive note, new research from the University of Maryland (UMD) Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences (HESP) reveals that the use of hearing aids not only restores the capacity to hear but improve the brain’s functionality and working memory as well.

To conduct the research, the UMD-led research team monitored a group of first-time hearing aid wearers who have mild-to-moderate hearing loss over a six-month period. A variety of behavioral and cognitive tests were administered. They were designed to assess the participants’ hearing as well as their working memory, processing speed and attention. The electrical activity produced in response to speech sounds in the auditory cortex and midbrain were also measured.

When the six months concluded, participants showed signs of improved memory, neural speech processing, and an increased ease of listening from the hearing aids they had used.

As many as 2.8 million Americans could benefit from wearing hearing aids according to the National Institutes of Health, even though less than a third of the population uses them.

Evidence continues to grow showing a correlation between hearing loss and cognitive decline in older adults. Hearing loss, along with aging, can lead to the brain changing its ability to efficiently process incoming speech and causing misunderstanding when communicating.

The researchers at UMD say the results of their study give hope that hearing aid use could partially restore deficits in auditory brain function and cognitive function in older adults. Are you wondering whether or not hearing aids are right for you? Schedule an appointment today with one of our hearing healthcare professionals. We strive to bring hearing health to every individual who visits our clinics and hope to spread more awareness on the positive benefits of wearing hearing aids.