Can Hearing Interventions Slow Cognitive Decline in Older Adults?
August 23, 2023

Did you know that our ears might play a role in keeping our minds sharp as we get older? Recent research looked into whether helping our hearing could slow down memory problems in older folks. Let's dive into the ACHIEVE study to see what they found out!

Hearing Loss & Cognitive Decline

As we grow older, sometimes our hearing isn't as good as it used to be. And guess what? This hearing trouble is linked to memory problems and even dementia in older adults. The ACHIEVE study wanted to see if fixing hearing issues could help older folks keep their memory sharp.

For the study, they gathered a group of people aged 70 to 84 years. These people had hearing problems, but they didn't have big memory problems yet. The study took place in different communities in the USA.

The researchers split the people into two groups. One group got help with their hearing. They talked with experts who gave them advice about hearing and even gave them hearing aids. The other group didn't get this hearing help. Instead, they learned about staying healthy from a health educator.

Every six months, the researchers checked in on these people to see how they were doing. They wanted to know if the hearing help made a difference in how their memory was doing over three years.

The Results

At first, when they looked at everyone's information together, the hearing help didn't seem to make a big difference in how people's memory changed over those three years. But, when they looked more closely, they noticed something interesting.

People who had more risk factors for memory problems seemed to benefit the most from the hearing help. Their memory didn't decline as much as the others who didn't get the hearing help. This means that the hearing help might work better for people who are at a higher risk of memory problems.

The best part? Nobody had negative effects from the hearing help or the health lessons. Both things were safe for everyone in the study.


To sum it up, the study tells us that helping our hearing might also help our memory, especially for those of us who might be more likely to have memory problems. It's like a little exercise for our brains – keeping our ears in good shape might be a secret to keeping our minds in good shape too as we get older.

So, if you want to stay sharp as you age, it could be a good idea to give your ears some attention. Remember, taking care of your hearing could be like giving your brain a little boost!

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Drew Sutton M.D.

Drew Sutton, MD is a board-certified otolaryngologist. He has extensive experience and training in sinus and respiratory diseases, ear and skull base surgery, and pulmonary disorders. He has served as a Clinical Instructor at Grady Hospital Emory University for more than 12 years.

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