Johns Hopkins Medicine. After 12 years of tracking it, researchers discovered that there was a significant impact on brain health in adults with mild to extreme hearing loss. For example:
- Somebody 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 someone who has severe hearing loss
The study reveals that the brain atrophies at a faster rate when a person has hearing loss. The brain has to work harder to do things such as maintaining balance, and that puts stress on it that can lead to injury.
Also, quality of life is affected. A person who can’t hear well is more likely to have anxiety and stress. Depression is also more common. All these factors add up to higher medical expenses.
The Newest Study
The newest study published November in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows that not getting your hearing loss checked is a budget buster, also. The University of California San Fransisco, Johns Hopkins with AARP, and Optum Labs also ran this study.
They analyzed data from 77,000 to 150,000 patients over the age of 50 who had untreated hearing loss. Just two years after the diagnosis of hearing loss, patients generated almost 26 percent more health care costs than individuals with normal hearing.
As time goes by, this number continues to grow. Healthcare costs increase by 46 percent after 10 years. Those numbers, when analyzed, average $22,434 per person.
Some factors that are associated with the increase are:
- Cognitive decline
- Lower quality of life
A link between untreated hearing loss and a higher rate of mortality is indicated by a second study conducted by the Bloomberg School. Some other findings from this study are:
- 3.2 more diagnoses of dementia per 100 over the course of 10 years
- 3.6 more falls
- 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
The research by Johns Hopkins matches with this one.
Hearing Loss is Increasing
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- Hearing loss is widespread in 55 to 64 year olds at a rate of 8.5 percent
- Hearing loss currently effects 2 to 3 out of every 1,0000 children
- There’s considerable deafness in people aged 45 to 54
- Approximately 15 percent of young people aged 18 have a hard time hearing
For those aged 64 to 74 the number goes up to 25 percent and for individuals over 74 it rises to 50 percent. Those numbers are expected to rise over time. By the year 2060, as many as 38 million people in this country may have hearing loss.
The study doesn’t touch on how using hearing aids can change these figures, though. What they do understand is that wearing hearing aids can prevent some of the health problems associated with hearing loss. Further research is necessary to confirm if using hearing aids decreases the cost of healthcare. There are more reasons to wear them than not, undoubtedly. Schedule an appointment with a hearing care specialist to see if hearing aids help you.