•July 27, 2016•
By Trudy Lieberman,
Rural Health News Service
Nearly two-thirds of adults over age 70 have hearing loss that doctors consider “clinically meaningful.” In plain English that means as people age, they are likely to become hard of hearing. Many of those people, however, don’t get the help they need, often because they simply cannot afford it.
“The prevalence of hearing loss almost doubles with each age decade of life,” says Dr. Frank Lin, an otolaryngologist at Johns Hopkins University, but for older people, he adds, “there are multiple barriers that prevent individuals from getting their hearing loss addressed.”
Lin spoke about the subject to a group of journalists in a recent phone conference sponsored by a Washington, D.C., advocacy group the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare. He is a co-author of a June report issued by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine that recommends better access and support for treating hearing loss.
Lin told the group that although hearing loss is a normal part of the aging process, “hearing care is inaccessible” to many seniors. He said studies over the last five years have shown that such loss “can increase the risk of cognitive decline.” Using data from a longitudinal study (one that tracks data from the same people repeatedly over many years or decades) that began in 1958, Lin and his colleagues at Johns Hopkins found that those with hearing loss had a higher probability of developing dementia. The more severe the loss, the more likely the dementia. Read More