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Martin Smith

9th February 2015

Improved Hearing Equals Improved Quality Of Life

 

 For People With Moderate Dementia, better hearing means a better life

Early findings in a new study seem to suggest that the quality of life is improved in hearing impaired listeners diagnosed with moderate dementia by treating hearing loss with hearing aids. This quality of life increase was also shared by the caregiver. The study by the University of North Texas and Unitron, a global manufacturer of advanced hearing solutions,  is being conducted by Amyn M. Amlani, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Speech and Hearing Sciences at the University of North Texas, in partnership with Brian Taylor, Au.D., Director of Practice Development and Clinical Affairs at Unitron.

Improvement in Cognitive Ability Using Hearing Aids

Even at these early stages the researchers have already been able to show some improvement in cognitive ability among participants using hearing aids. This data is certainly suggestive that there may be new therapeutic potential for hearing aids in cases of moderate dementia. If the early results are found to be conclusive, the findings will change the role of hearing healthcare professionals in the rehabilitation of patients diagnosed with cognitive decline in relation to his or her hearing. They will also increase the importance of treating hearing loss in the wider population.

Dr. Amlani said, "This study looks at whether improved hearing can improve cognitive functioning for people who have already been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia, In particular, we want to understand whether better hearing can play a role in helping people with dementia lead more active and engaged lives, particularly if hearing loss is identified and treated early."

Untreated Hearing Loss & Dementia

Previously studies that have been undertaken have shown that people with hearing loss are more likely to develop dementia over time in comparison to those with normal hearing. There are many studies ongoing in relation to hearing loss and neuro degenerative disease, but no data yet exists showing that the effects or onset of dementia can actually be lessened through the use of hearing aids.

Brian Taylor said, "Given the expected sharp increase in dementia cases over the next few decades, our findings could have significant implications for aging individuals as they begin experiencing hearing loss, Unitron is focused on providing solutions for healthcare providers so they can better serve their patients, and get them the treatment they need."

The study includes adults aged between 50 and 90 years of age with moderate dementia who are inexperienced with amplification devices. It measures the recognition of speech in noise, cognition and self-reported improvements in quality of life. The study is expected to be completed later this year.

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