A recent study of older adults found a link between hearing amplification and reduced depressive symptoms. Published this month in JAMA Otolaryngology Head & Neck Surgery, the study followed 113 people, all age 50 or older (the median age was 69.6). Of the participants, 50 were fitted with a cochlear implant (CI) and 63 wore hearing aids.
Six months after they began wearing the devices, CI participants’ scores on the Geriatric Depression Scale dropped by 31 percent. Hearing aid participants’ scores were 28 percent lower. After a year, that number increased slightly for CI participants, and decreased slightly for those wearing hearing aids.
Across both types of devices, recipients who initially scored highest on depressive symptoms showed the most improvement after amplification treatment.
The observational study was led by Janet S. Choi of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and colleagues from Johns Hopkins, the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine and Drexel University College of Medicine. It did not report the specifics of how the devices were fitted or what type of technology they contained.
Heartened by the study’s results, the research team is calling for further research into the long-term effects of hearing rehabilitation on the mental health of older adults.
Read more from The ASHA Leader on aging and hearing loss:
Research by Frank Lin and his team reveals a strong association between untreated hearing loss and the risk of cognitive decline and dementia in older adults—a link that poses big public health problems because of the aging population, says Lin.