Study Finds Age-Related Hearing Loss Accelerates Rapidly after 90

Study Finds Age-Related Hearing Loss Accelerates Rapidly after 90

Authors of a study on hearing loss claim the use of hearing aids provide significant benefits to older adults living with the condition. With the dramatic acceleration of hearing loss in adults over 90, the underuse of hearing aids poses a series of problems.

The Study

Anil K. Lalwani, M.D., of the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, and colleagues examined whether age-related hearing loss (ARHL) is more frequent in older adults, 80 years and up. As the current global demographic change has resulted in a larger number of older adults, the U.S. population of adults over the age of 80 is expected to double within the next 40 years.

Researchers studied 647 patients between the ages of 80 and 106 who were evaluated by an audiogram at an academic medical center. Out of the group, 141 had multiple audiograms. The participants were examined in age groups including 80-84 years, 85-89 years, 90-94 years, and 95 years and above, to measure the degree of hearing loss.

The study’s findings were published in the JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery journal.

The Results

The study found about two-thirds of seniors over 70 years old and four-fifths of seniors over 85 are affected by presbycusis, or ARHL. The examiners discovered that hearing loss increased significantly during the 10th decade of life when compared with the 9th decade. Despite the overall presence of hearing loss within this group, just 382 (59%) of the patients used hearing aids.

According to the authors,

“Hearing aids are underused in this population despite a universal potential benefit that increases with age. To improve use, hearing aids should be thought of as a lifestyle modification. More attention should be on counseling patients on accepting hearing aids in a longitudinal primary care setting, especially in the population living to 80 years or older.”

The benefits to wearing hearing aids are undeniable—untreated hearing loss is connected to higher risk of depression, dementia, social isolation, reduced physical activity, falls, and the inability to work. The researchers highly suggest preventative care with hearing aids to help decrease the negative results of hearing loss.