Johns Hopkins Medicine. Researchers spent 12 years following adults with anywhere from slight to severe hearing loss and discovered it had a significant effect on brain health. For example:
- An individual with a severe hearing impairment has five times the chance of developing dementia
- The chance of getting dementia is doubled in people with only minor hearing loss
- The risk is triple for those with moderate hearing loss
The study shows that the brain atrophies at a faster pace when a person suffers from 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.
Also, quality of life is affected. Stress and anxiety are more likely in a person who can’t hear well. They are also prone to have depression. All these things 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 buster if you decide not to address your hearing loss. The University of California San Fransisco, Johns Hopkins with AARP, and Optum Labs also led this study.
77,000 to 150,000 patients who had untreated hearing loss were analyzed. Only two years after the diagnosis of hearing loss, patients generated almost 26 percent more health care costs than people with normal hearing.
Over time, this amount continues to grow. Healthcare expenses go up by 46 percent after a ten year period. Those statistics, when broken down, average $22,434 per person.
Some factors that are associated with the increase are:
- Decline of cognitive ability
- Lower quality of life
A link between untreated hearing loss and an increased rate of mortality is indicated 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
Those stats correlate with the study by Johns Hopkins.
Hearing Loss is on The Rise
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- There’s considerable deafness in those between the ages of 45 to 54
- As many as 8.5 percent of 55-to-64-year-olds have hearing loss
- Loss of hearing currently impacts 2 to 3 out of every 1,0000 children
- The simple act of hearing is difficult for about 15 percent of young people aged 18
For those aged 64 to 74 the number goes up to 25 percent and for people over 74 it rises to 50 percent. Those numbers are predicted to rise over time. As many as 38 million individuals in this country may have hearing loss by the year 2060.
The study doesn’t mention how using hearing aids can change these numbers, though. What they do recognize is that wearing hearing aids can get rid of some of the health issues associated with hearing loss. To figure out whether using hearing aids diminishes the cost of healthcare, additional research is needed. It seems obvious there are more reasons to wear them than not to. Schedule an appointment with a hearing care specialist to see if hearing aids are right for you.