Hearing loss has often been perceived as an inevitable, and hence, relatively inconsequential part of aging. In other words, if hearing loss is so common, how could it be important?
Over the past seven years, epidemiologic research from Johns Hopkins University, as well as from other institutions around the world, has demonstrated that hearing loss, while being a usual aspect of aging, is not without consequence. For example, these studies have shown that individuals with hearing loss are at a greater risk of developing dementia, falling, and being hospitalized.
These links are not purely by correlation or chance, but likely the result of mechanisms through which hearing loss increases the risk of these adverse outcomes. These mechanisms include the “load” that hearing loss puts on the brain, reduced auditory stimulation contributing to faster brain aging over time, and the loss of social connectedness that comes with not being able to easily communicate.
These research findings have served as a wake-up call to policymakers given that addressing hearing loss could potentially lead to real and tangible benefits that would
help reduce the risk of dementia and other important costly health outcomes.
Full reference: Lin, F.R. (2017) Where We Are and Where We’re Headed: The Importance of Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids to the Future of Hearing Health Care. Hearing Loss Magazine. May/June 2017 p.18-23