Johns Hopkins Medicine. Researchers spent 12 years following adults with anywhere from minor to severe hearing loss and discovered it had a significant effect on brain health. For example:
- A person with slight hearing loss doubles their risk of dementia
- Somebody with moderate hearing loss triples their chance of getting dementia
- Dementia is five times more likely in somebody suffering from severe hearing loss
The study revealed that when a person has hearing loss, their brain atrophies faster. The brain has to work harder to do things such as maintaining balance, and that puts stress on it that can lead to damage.
Also, quality of life is affected. Stress and anxiety are more likely in a person who doesn’t hear well. Depression is also more likely. All these factors add up to higher medical expenses.
The Newest Research
The newest research published November in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows that it starts to be a budget breaker if you decide not to address your hearing loss. This research was also led by researchers from Johns Hopkins in collaboration with AARP, the University of California San Francisco and Optum Labs.
They examined data from 77,000 to 150,000 people over the age of 50 who had untreated hearing loss. Individuals with normal hearing created 26 percent less health care costs compared to people who were recently diagnosed with hearing loss.
That number continues to increase as time goes by. Healthcare expenses increase by 46 percent after a decade. Those figures, when broken down, average $22,434 per person.
The study lists factors involved in the increase including:
- Lower quality of life
- Cognitive decline
A connection between untreated hearing loss and an increased rate of mortality is suggested by a second study done by the Bloomberg School. Some other findings from this study are:
- 3.6 more falls
- 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
- In the course of ten years, 3.2 more cases of dementia
The research by Johns Hopkins correlates with this one.
Hearing Loss is on The Rise
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- There’s significant deafness in individuals between the ages of 45 to 54
- Presently, between two and three out of every 1,000 children has loss of hearing
- The simple act of hearing is difficult for around 15 percent of young people aged 18
- Hearing loss is common in 55 to 64 year olds at a rate of 8.5 percent
The number goes up to 25 percent for people aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent for anyone above the age of 74. Those numbers are anticipated to rise in the future. By the year 2060, as many as 38 million people in this country may have hearing loss.
The study doesn’t mention how wearing hearing aids can change these numbers, though. What they do understand is that wearing hearing aids can get rid of some of the health issues connected with hearing loss. To determine whether using hearing aids reduces the cost of healthcare, further studies are needed. It seems obvious there are more reasons to use them than not. Schedule an appointment with a hearing care expert to see if hearing aids help you.