For many years there has been an assumption that hearing loss is related to cognitive issues like dementia and more general cognitive decline. In fact, the link between hearing loss and cognition has been well established, showing those with hearing loss are at increased risk for cognitive decline/dementia.

In 2017, a commission report on dementia prevention identified hearing loss as  the  largest potentially modifiable risk factor for  dementia at the population level (Livingston et  al. 2017, 2020).

There has been the hope, maybe even an assumption by some, that appropriate intervention, including use of hearing instruments might delay onset and progression of these conditions. But research evidence to support this was missing or sparse, until recently.

Several publications in 2023 and 2024 document research findings of particular relevance in this area which have shown very promising results.

Below are links to access information from three relevant studies on this topic as well as an article with recommendations for clinicians on how to support older clients.

This study is a longitudinal long term multi center randomized control trial over a 3 year period. The lead investigators w ere Frank Lin, MD PhD, and Josef Coresh MD PhD with their team at Johns Hopkins University. Key takeaway is that hearing intervention might reduce cognitive change over 3 years in populations of older adults at increased risk for cognitive decline.

This is also a 3 year longitudinal observational study from the University of Melbourne, led by principle investigator, Julia Sarant, PhD . The conclusion of this study suggests that hearing intervention may delay cognitive decline and the timely management of hearing loss may facilitate maintenance of cognitive abilities.

In this cohort study that included 573 088 persons, hearing loss was significantly associated with a 7% higher risk of dementia. People with hearing loss who were not using hearing aids were at considerably higher risk of dementia compared with people with hearing loss who used hearing aids. Use of hearing instruments might prevent or delay the onset and progression of dementia.

  • This article from the International Journal of Audiology provides “evidence-based recommendations for hearing care professionals supporting older clients to maximize well-being through the cognitive trajectory”. It provides a summary of the association between hearing loss and cognitive decline and considers research on the effects of hearing intervention (amplification). Screening, practical suggestions, management goals and prevention strategies are provided along with a case study example.