Johns Hopkins Medicine. Researchers spent 12 years following adults with anywhere from mild to severe hearing loss and found it had a considerable impact on brain health. For example:
- Somebody with a extreme hearing impairment has five times the risk of getting dementia
- The risk is triple for people with moderate loss of hearing
- The chance of getting dementia is doubled in individuals with only slight hearing loss
The study revealed that when a person has hearing loss, their brain atrophies at a faster rate. The brain has to work harder to do things such as maintaining balance, and that puts stress on it that can lead to damage.
Also, quality of life is affected. A person who can’t hear very well is more likely to feel anxiety and stress. They are also prone to have depression. 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 it becomes a budget breaker if you decide not to take care of your hearing loss. The University of California San Fransisco, Johns Hopkins with AARP, and Optum Labs also led this study.
They looked at data from 77,000 to 150,000 people over the age of 50 who had untreated hearing loss. Individuals with normal hearing created 26 percent less health care costs than people who were recently diagnosed with hearing loss.
That number continues to increase over time. Healthcare costs increase by 46 percent after 10 years. Those numbers, when broken down, average $22,434 per person.
The study lists factors involved in the increase such as:
- Cognitive decline
- Lower quality of life
A second associated study conducted by Bloomberg School indicates a link between untreated hearing loss and higher mortality. Some other findings from this study are:
- 3.6 more falls
- 3.2 more diagnoses of dementia per 100 over the course of 10 years
- 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
The study by Johns Hopkins matches with this one.
Hearing Loss is on The Rise
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- About 15 percent of young people aged 18 have difficulty hearing
- Approximately 2 percent of those at the ages of 45 to 54 are noticeably deaf
- As many as 8.5 percent of 55-to-64-year-olds have hearing loss
- Loss of hearing currently effects 2 to 3 out of every 1,0000 children
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 anticipated to rise in the future. By the year 2060, as many as 38 million people in this country may have hearing loss.
Using hearing aids can alter these figures, though, which the study doesn’t show. What is understood is that some health problems linked to hearing loss can be decreased by wearing hearing aids. Further research is needed to determine if wearing hearing aids lowers the cost of healthcare. There are more benefits to wearing them than not, without a doubt. Make an appointment with a hearing care expert to see if hearing aids are right for you.