Johns Hopkins Medicine. Researchers spent 12 years following adults with anywhere from minor to severe hearing loss and found it had a considerable effect on brain health. For example:
- The risk of dementia is doubled in individuals with only minor hearing loss
- Somebody with moderate hearing loss triples their chance of getting dementia
- Dementia is five times more likely in somebody who has severe hearing loss
The study shows that the brain atrophies at a quicker pace when a person has hearing loss. The brain is put under stress that can lead to injury because it has to work harder to do things such as maintaining balance.
Poor hearing has an impact on quality of life, also. A person who can’t hear well is more likely to have anxiety and stress. They are also prone to have depression. All these things add up to higher medical costs.
The Newest Study
The newest research published November in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows that it becomes a budget buster if you decide not to address your loss of hearing. The University of California San Fransisco, Johns Hopkins with AARP, and Optum Labs also ran this study.
They looked at data from 77,000 to 150,000 people over the age of 50 who had untreated hearing loss. Only two years after the diagnosis of hearing loss, patients generated almost 26 percent more health care costs than individuals with normal hearing.
That amount continues to increase over time. After a ten year period, healthcare expenses increase by 46 percent. Those numbers, when broken down, average $22,434 per person.
Some factors that are associated with the increase are:
- Cognitive decline
- Lower quality of life
A connection between untreated hearing loss and a higher rate of mortality is indicated by a second study done by the Bloomberg School. They also found that people with untreated hearing loss had:
- In the course of ten years, 3.2 more cases of dementia
- 3.6 more falls
- 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
The study by Johns Hopkins correlates with this one.
Hearing Loss is Increasing
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- The basic act of hearing is hard for around 15 percent of young people around the age of 18
- Hearing loss currently impacts 2 to 3 out of every 1,0000 children
- There’s considerable deafness in individuals aged 45 to 54
- Up to 8.5 percent of 55-to-64-year-olds have loss of hearing
For those aged 64 to 74 the number goes up to 25 percent and for someone over 74 it goes up to 50 percent. Those numbers are anticipated to rise over time. As many as 38 million people in this country might have hearing loss by 2060.
Wearing hearing aids can alter these numbers, though, which the study doesn’t show. What is known is that some health problems associated with hearing loss can be reduced by wearing hearing aids. Further studies are needed to determine if wearing hearing aids lowers the cost of healthcare. It’s safe to say there are more reasons to use them than not. Schedule an appointment with a hearing care professional to see if hearing aids are right for you.