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Helping People Age with Dignity

Could hearing aids help curb cognitive decline?

Hearing aids can have many quality of life benefits for seniors who have hearing loss. Might the use of such devices also help elderly individuals with hearing problems retain more of their cognitive abilities as they get older? A recent study points to it being a possibility. 

The study, a French study, looked at data from research that tracked over 3,700 elderly individuals over a period of 25 years. Among the things that were tracked about these individuals were: whether they suffered from hearing loss, whether they used hearing aids and what happened with their cognitive abilities over the 25-year period. 

According to the study results, the seniors who had hearing loss but did not use hearing aids had a significantly higher rate of cognitive decline than the elderly individuals who had no hearing loss. However, the researchers found that, when it came to the elderly individuals who used hearing aids in connection to their hearing loss, their cognitive decline rate did not show that big of a difference from the rate of the seniors who were without hearing loss.

As a note, the study did find that the differences found between the different groups became less sharp when the results were adjusted to account for other factors.

Do you think whether or not an elderly individual who has hearing loss uses a hearing aid could impact their cognitive abilities in the future?

Cognitive decline can have some very big effects on an elderly individual. In some instances, such decline becomes so severe for a senior that it knocks out their capacity to make health care and financial decisions.

It can be important for seniors to prepare for the possibility that they could one day lose the cognitive capacity to make important medical and financial decisions. Among the things that elderly individuals can do to prepare for such a possibility is take estate planning steps such as having health care proxy documents and durable power of attorney documents in their estate plan. These documents can allow a person to control who would have the authority to make medical and financial decisions for them if they become incapacitated, rather than leaving this choice up to a court decision in guardianship/conservatorship proceedings. Elder law attorneys can help Massachusetts seniors with forming such documents.

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