Older adults with hearing impairment suffer memory loss

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A new study from Johns Hopkins reveals that older adults who suffer hearing loss are more at risk to develop thinking and memory problems. In a study conducted over six years, researchers discovered that volunteers with cognitive problems showed a 30 to 40% faster decline than those with normal hearing. They found that levels of declining brain function were related directly to the amount of hearing loss. There was also a significant impairment in their cognitive abilities -- 3.2 years -- sooner than volunteers with normal hearing. "Our results show that hearing loss should not be considered an inconsequential part of aging, because it may come with some serious long-term consequences to healthy brain functioning," says Frank Lin, an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the university's Bloomberg School of Public Health. "Our findings emphasize just how important it is for physicians to discuss hearing with their patients and to be proactive in addressing any hearing declines over time," says Lin. According to Lin, there are more than 27 million Americans over 50 who suffer from some form of hearing loss. Two-thirds of them are age 70 or older. Yet only 15 percent of those who need hearing aids get them.

Source: JAMA Intern Med. 2013;():1-7. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.1868.

Rose Simpson