This just in! There’s now even more evidence to support that hearing aids can benefit our brain health. A new study found that, for older adults at risk for cognitive decline, hearing aids were shown to reduce the risk by nearly half. The study Aging and Cognitive Health Evaluation in Elders (ACHIEVE study) was published in The Lancet and presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference® just this week. 

About the ACHIEVE study

Conducted over a three-year period, the study examined nearly one thousand adults (aged 70–84) recruited from two distinct study populations. The first one consisted of “healthy community volunteers”. The other consisted of individuals already participating in a study on cardiovascular health. Both groups however were diagnosed with “untreated hearing loss and without substantial cognitive impairment.” 

Participants were then randomly put into one of two groups. The first group, the experimental group, received hearing intervention consisting of hearing aids and audiological consulting. The second, the control group, received health education but did not receive hearing intervention. 

What did the ACHIEVE study determine?

The ACHIEVE study found that individuals from the cardiovascular study in the experimental group showed 48% less cognitive decline over the three-year study compared to their peers from the cardiovascular study in the control group. 

The TL;DR version: hearing aids slowed the progression of cognitive decline in older adults at risk for cognitive decline by as much as 48%. 

Linking hearing loss and dementia

These results should come as no surprise given that mounting research by institutions like The Lancet Commission on Dementia, Prevention, Intervention and Care and Johns Hopkins Medicine linking cognitive decline and dementia to hearing loss. The Lancet Commission’s 2020 report specifically named hearing loss as the number one modifiable risk factor found to prevent dementia: “Hearing loss had the highest PAF (population attributable fraction) for dementia”. recently wrote about the connection between hearing loss and dementia: “even mild degrees of hearing loss double the risk of dementia…moderate hearing loss triples the risk of dementia, and severe hearing loss increases the likelihood by five times”.

Hearing aid use and cognitive decline

More importantly, the ACHIEVE study shows that hearing aid use may now actually slow the progression of cognitive decline, further strengthening the importance of hearing aid use for treating hearing loss. Wearing hearing aids can help reduce the 10 million new cases of dementia worldwide each year (at an estimated societal cost of $1.3 trillion). Plus, they can significantly improve a person’s quality of life. That to us sounds like a step worth taking! 

Next Steps for Individuals at Risk

Are you or someone you love at risk for dementia, Alzheimer’s or affected by hearing loss? Take the first step toward finding support and relief today. Talk to one of our hearing healthcare specialists to get to know your hearing better and what you can do to prevent cognitive decline. Schedule an appointment or contact us today for a hearing consultation.