October 15, 2019
Use of hearing aids delays the diagnosis of Alzheimer Disease, dementia, depression, anxiety, and injurious falls among older adults with hearing loss, according to recent study findings published online in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
For the retrospective cohort study, lead study author Elham Mahmoudi, PhD, department of family medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School, and colleagues, examined the association between hearing aid use and time to diagnosis of Alzheimer disease or dementia, anxiety or depression, and injurious falls within 3 years of hearing loss diagnosis among adults 66 years or age and older.
“We used 2008 to 2016 national longitudinal claims data (based on office visit, inpatient, or outpatient healthcare encounters) from a large private payer,” they explained. “We used Kaplan‐Meier curves to examine unadjusted disease‐free survival and crude and adjusted Cox regression models to examine associations between HAs and time to diagnosis of three age‐related/HL‐associated conditions within 3 years of HL diagnosis.”
In total, 114,862 older adults diagnosed with hearing loss participated in the study.
According to the findings, the researchers found that there were large sex and racial/ethnic differences that exist in hearing aid use.
“Approximately 11.3% of women vs 13.3% of men used [hearing aids] (95% confidence interval [CI] difference = −0.024 to −0.016). Approximately 13.6% of whites (95% CI = 0.13‐0.14) vs 9.8% of blacks (95% CI = 0.09‐0.11) and 6.5% of Hispanics (95% CI = 0.06‐0.07) used [hearing aids].”
They also found that the risk-adjusted hazard ratios of being diagnosed with Alzheimer disease or dementia, anxiety or depression, and injurious falls within 3 years after hearing loss diagnosis were 0.82 (95% CI = 0.76‐0.89), 0.89 (95% CI = 0.86‐0.93), and 0.87 (95% CI = 0.80‐0.95) for older adults who used hearing aids versus those who did not.
“Use of [hearing aids] is associated with delayed diagnosis of [Alzheimer disease], dementia, depression, anxiety, and injurious falls among older adults with [hearing loss],” Dr Mahmoudi and colleagues concluded. “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.”
Mahmoudi E, Basu T, Langa K, et al. Can hearing aids delay time to diagnosis of dementia, depression, or falls in older adults? [published online September 4, 2019]. J Am Geriatr Soc. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/jgs.16109