Hearing aid use and gender differences in the auditory-cognitive cascade in older people


This article was originally published here

Aging Mental health. 2021 23: 1-9. doi: 10.1080 / 13607863.2021.2007355. Online ahead of print.


OBJECTIVES: This study analyzed cognitive differences between hearing aid users (HA) and non-users. We hypothesized that the use of HA attenuates the auditory-cognitive cascade, so that the latter is more visible in non-HA users. Since hearing loss (HI) shows a male predominance, we hypothesized gender differences within the auditory-cognitive relationship.

METHODS: Non-frail community residents aged ≥ 80 years were assessed for HI (Pure Tone Audiogram-PTA; Speech Reception Threshold-SRT) and Global and Domain-Specific Cognitive Impairment (Mini- Mental State Examination-MMSE; Montreal Cognitive Assessment-MOCA; Reaction Time Test-RT1-4). Pearson and partial correlations (age and ATP correction) assessed auditory-cognitive associations within sex and HA subgroups. Fisher’s z-test compared the correlations between HA and non-HA users.

RESULTS: 126 participants (age group 80-91 years) were included. The prevalence of HA use was 21%. HA users were older with poorer HI (mean PTA 49.5 dBHL). HA users showed no significant auditory (PTA, SRT) and cognitive (MMSE, MOCA, RT1-RT4) correlations. Male non-HA users had a significant association between HI and overall cognition, processing speed, selective and alternating attention. Significant differences were noted between MMSE and PTA and SRT (z-score 2.28, 3.33, p = 0.02,

Conclusion: Non-HA male users exhibited an association between HI and overall and domain-specific cognitive decline (processing speed; selective and alternating attention). The associations between overall cognition and HI were significantly different between HA and non-HA users. This may be partially due to the sample sizes of the underlying subgroups and the disparity in statistical power. While larger-scale longitudinal or interventional studies confirm these findings, prompt assessment and management of HI may be the cornerstone in delaying cognitive decline.

PMID:34937465 | DO I:10.1080 / 13607863.2021.2007355

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