Recent study shows cognitive benefits of hearing aids
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — A recent study shows hearing aids are a preventative tool against dementia and cognitive decline. Done by National University of Singapore researchers, the study found the use of hearing aids was associated with close to a 20% reduction in long-term cognitive decline. But even in the short term, using hearing aids had an immediate positive impact. People like former hearing health care executive Brian Zielinski have already seen the impact these hearing aids can have. “Getting my dad to start using hearing aids, immediately you could see that change,” Zielinski said. “He was reengaged.”
On top of the 19% reduction in long-term cognitive decline, the study found that in the short term, using hearing aids was associated with a 3% increase in cognitive test scores. “It is kind of proving everything that we suspected,” Beltone West cofounder and hearing care specialist Dustin McMinn said.
McMinn says having specific numbers related to the benefits of hearing aids has already meant more business in Arizona. “The day after it got released, I actually had patients coming in saying that they saw that article,” he said. “It’s shining life on an issue that has been put on the back burner.”
With the Alzheimer’s Association expecting a rise from 150,000 Arizona cases in 2020 to 200,000 in 2025, McMinn says it’s important for adults to know about expanded options for getting ahead of dementia and cognitive decline. “Now there’s things like over-the-counter hearing aids where it might not be the ideal solution as far as a treatment,” McMinn said. “But it is a first step in getting some sort of stimuli to those areas of the brain.”
Zielinski says these hearing aids haven’t just improved his dad’s hearing; they’ve transformed his life. “Your Bluetooth is connected to your hearing aids, you’re more inclined to talk to people,” Zielinski said. “It brings a happiness again.”
McMinn says if you’re worried about dementia, Alzheimer’s or signs of hearing loss (such as frequently asking people to repeat things), you should first get a hearing screening with an audiologist.
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