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Hearing Aid Use Tied to Lower Risk for Dementia, Depression, Falls

Findings revealed in large study of older adults with hearing loss

FRIDAY, Sept. 6, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Use of hearing aids is associated with lower risks for being diagnosed with Alzheimer disease, dementia, depression, anxiety, and injurious falls among elderly adults diagnosed with hearing loss, according to a study published online Sept. 5 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Elham Mahmoudi, Ph.D., from the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor, and colleagues used 2008 to 2016 national longitudinal claims data (based on office visit, inpatient, or outpatient health care encounters from a large private payer) to examine the association between hearing aid use and time to diagnosis of Alzheimer disease or dementia, anxiety or depression, and injurious falls among 114,862 older adults (≥66 years) with hearing loss.

The researchers found large sex and racial/ethnic differences in hearing aid use. Fewer women used hearing aids versus men (11.3 versus 13.3 percent), and more whites used hearing aids than blacks or Hispanics (13.6 percent versus 9.8 and 6.5 percent, respectively). Within three years after hearing loss diagnosis, the risk-adjusted hazard ratio was 0.82 for being diagnosed with Alzheimer disease/dementia, 0.89 for anxiety/depression, and 0.87 for injurious falls for those who used hearing aids versus those who did not.

“Although we have shown an association between use of hearing aids and reduced risk of physical and mental decline, randomized trials are needed to determine whether, and to what extent, the relationship is causal,” the authors write.

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