Longitudinal relationships between hearing aid use and cognitive function in older Americans

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Objective: To test whether hearing aid use alters cognitive trajectories in older adults.Design, setting, and participants: Data were drawn from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), a US population-based longitudinal cohort study with cognitive performance measured repeatedly every 2 years over 18 years (1996-2014). This study included 1,586 adults aged 50 and older who who took part in a minimum of three waves of the HRS and who used hearing aids for the first time between Wave 4 and Wave 11.Measurements: Cognitive outcomes were based on episodic memory scores determined by the sum of immediate and delayed recall of 10 words.Results: Hearing aid use was positively associated with episodic memory scores (β=1.24, p<0.001). The decline in episodic memory scores was slower after (β=-0.02, p<0.001) than before using hearing aids (β=-0.1, p<0.001). These results were robust to adjustment for multiple confounders and and to attrition as accounted for with joint model.Conclusions: Hearing aids may have a mitigating impact on trajectories of cognitive decline in later life. Providing hearing aids or other rehabilitative services for hearing impairment much earlier in the course of hearing impairment may stem the worldwide rise of dementia.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1130-1136
JournalJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
Issue number6
Early online date10 Apr 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Dementia
  • Hearing Loss
  • America, welfare regime, household, debt, young adults, senior citizens

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Global Development Institute
  • Cathie Marsh Institute
  • Manchester Institute for Collaborative Research on Ageing


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