With age comes wisdom — and, inevitably, hearing loss too.
“About one in three people in the United States between the ages of 65 and 74 have hearing loss,” says Kelly King, an audiologist and program officer at the Division of Scientific Programs, National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), “and nearly half of those older than 75 have difficulty hearing.”
The solution is simple, right? Wear hearing aids. Unfortunately, “among adults 70 and older with hearing loss who could benefit from hearing aids, fewer than one in three (30 percent) has ever used them,” King says, whether because of their high cost, the stigma of “looking old,” the belief that they are ineffective or limited access to health care.
And that’s a pity. Because hearing aids don’t just improve your hearing — studies have indicated they may have many other significant benefits. Here are four important ways they may improve your health.
1. They could actually help you live longer
A study published in January 2024 in The Lancet Healthy Longevity journal found that American adults who have hearing loss and are regular users of hearing aids have a significantly lower risk of dying than those who never use hearing aids.
The University of Southern California study looked at health information from almost 10,000 participants in a 13-year Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) health survey.
The researchers found a 24 percent lower risk of early death between the regular users of hearing aids and those who never wore them. It found no difference in mortality rates between non-regular hearing aid users and those who didn’t have hearing aids.
“The risk of dying was higher among those who never used hearing aids than regular hearing aid users,” says Janet Choi, M.D., an otolaryngologist with Keck Medicine of USC and lead study author. “The differences were significant, even after accounting for relevant factors such as age, severity of hearing loss, socioeconomic status and other medical conditions.”
Although Choi points out that more study is needed to understand cause and effect, she tells her patients there is a real benefit to treating hearing loss.
“I encourage anyone experiencing hearing difficulties to get their hearing tested and determine the type and severity of their hearing loss,” she says. “You might be surprised at the variety of hearing device options available to assist with your hearing loss that can enhance daily communication and quality of life.”
To learn about other ways that hearing aids can improve your overall health, from AARP, CLICK HERE.