Good news now comes from a recent study from the John Hopkins University (US). It has shown that wearing hearing aids can slow down the loss of thinking and memory abilities by 48% over three years in older adults at increased risk for cognitive decline.3
Under the light of these recent scientific insights, early detection and management of hearing loss offers an even greater potential to contribute to your overall well-being and healthy aging by helping to protect your cognitive health.
Woman with red jacked and backpack

Did you know…that your ears and your brain work as a team?

Our ears are responsible for picking up sounds whereas our brain gives meaning to the puzzle of sounds.4,5 Listening to sounds and processing speech keeps your brain active. This stimulation is key for cognitive health as it maintains neural connections which are crucial for the brain to function well.6
Many people underestimate the impact of hearing loss, thinking of it as just a sensory problem. Struggling to hear taxes your brain as it has to work hard to make sense of incomplete information.7 Over time, this extra effort can lead to fatigue and stress, impacting your overall cognitive health.8,9

Hearing loss and cognitive health – a strong connection

Both hearing loss and dementia are related to aging. Currently, 65% of people over 60 are affected by hearing loss.10 Approximately 10% of people over 65 have dementia.11,12

Among the various known risk factors for dementia, including age, genetics, high blood pressure, and diabetes-type-2, hearing loss has been identified as the largest modifiable risk factor, contributing with 8% to the overall risk of developing age-related dementia.13

Infographic of 3 facts about dementia

Early symptoms of cognitive decline (14)

Signs that could make you alert of a potential early-stage dementia include:
  • forgetting things or recent events
  • losing or misplacing things
  • getting lost when walking or driving
  • being confused, even in familiar places
  • losing track of time
  • difficulties solving problems or making decisions 
  • problems following conversations or trouble finding words 
  • difficulties performing familiar tasks
  • misjudging distances to objects visually.
Common changes in mood and behavior include:
  • feeling anxious, sad, or angry about memory loss 
  • personality changes
  • inappropriate behavior
  • withdrawal from work or social activities
  • being less interested in other people’s emotions.
A group of happy people eating together

How to reduce your risk of cognitive decline (15)

The good news is: There are several things you can do about your lifestyle habits to bring your own risk down.
Physical activity
Being physically active on a regular basis is one of the best ways to reduce your dementia risk (recommendation: at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity or 75 minutes of intensive activity each week).
Healthy food
A balanced diet such as the Mediterranean-style diet (incl. fresh vegetables and fruits, fish, less red meat, and vegetable oils) may contribute to bringing down your risk of dementia, as well as your risk of other conditions.
Don't smoke
Smoking does a lot of harm to the circulation of blood around the body, including the blood vessels in the brain – quitting to smoke is a great option to reduce your risk of developing dementia. 
Less alcohol
Sticking to the recommended limits of alcohol consumption or even abstaining from alcohol can have a beneficial impact on your brain health and cognitive abilities.
Stay mentally and socially active
Engaging in mental or social activities can make a contribution to building up your brain’s ability to cope with disease, relieve stress and improve your mood, and to delay or prevent dementia from developing.
Take control of your (hearing) health
With growing age, you are more likely to develop certain health conditions, such as high blood pressure, diabetes or hearing loss that can increase your risk of developing dementia. Getting your overall physical health and your hearing health checked on a regular basis can help bring this risk down.

Act now to protect your cognitive health

Considering the strong connection between hearing loss and cognitive decline, it becomes even more impactful, as we age, to have not only your overall physical health, but also your hearing health checked on a regular basis.

Hearing aids not only improve listening abilities but can support cognitive health and make a strong contribution to your overall well-being. 3,16 When did you last have your hearing checked?


1 Vercammen C, Ferguson M, Kramer SE, et al. Well-hearing is well-being. Hearing Review. 2020;27(3):18-22.
2 Yeo, B. S. Y., Song, H. J. J. M. D., Toh, E. M. S., Ng, L. S., Ho, C. S. H., Ho, R., Merchant, R. A., Tan, B. K. J., & Loh, W. S. (2023). Association of Hearing Aids and Cochlear Implants With Cognitive Decline and Dementia: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA neurology, 80(2), 134–141.
3 Lin, F. et al., (2023). Hearing intervention versus health education control to reduce cognitive decline in older adults with hearing loss in the USA (ACHIEVE): a multicentre, randomised controlled trial. The Lancet. Advanced online publication.
4 Kiessling, J., Pichora-Fuller, M. K., Gatehouse, S., Stephens, D., Arlinger, S., Chisolm, T., . . . von Wedel, H. (2003). Candidature for and delivery of audiological services: special needs of older people. International journal of audiology, 42 Suppl 2, 2S92-101. Retrieved from
5 World Health Organization. (2021). World report on hearing. Geneva: World Health Organization. Retrieved March 8th, 2021. from
6 Lemke, U., & Scherpiet, S. (2015). Oral communication in individuals with hearing impairment—considerations regarding attentional, cognitive and social resources. Frontiers in Psychology, 6, 998.
7 Holman, J. A., Hornsby, B. W. Y., Bess, F. H., & Naylor, G. (2021). Can listening-related fatigue influence well-being? Examining associations between hearing loss, fatigue, activity levels and well-being. International journal of audiology, 60(sup2), 47–59.
8 Winneke, A. H., Schulte, M., Vormann, M., & Latzel, M. (2020). Effect of directional microphone technology in hearing aids on neural correlates of listening and memory effort: an electroencephalographic study. Trends in Hearing, 24, 2331216520948410.
9 Holman, J. A., Drummond, A., & Naylor, G. (2021). Hearing aids reduce daily-life fatigue and increase social activity: a longitudinal study. Trends in Hearing, 25, 23312165211052786.
10 Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME). (2018). Findings from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017. Seattle, WA: IHME.
11 United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2022). World Population Prospects 2022: Summary of Results. UN DESA/POP/2022/TR/NO.3.
12 WHO, Dementia, in Key facts. 2021.
13 Livingston, G., Huntley, J., Sommerlad, A., Ames, D., Ballard, C., Banerjee, S., . . . Mukadam, N. (2020). Dementia prevention, intervention, and care: 2020 report of the Lancet Commission. Lancet (London, England), 396(10248), 413-446. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30367-6
14 World Health Organization. (2023). Retrieved November 22nd, 2023. from
15 Alzheimer’s Society. (2023). How to reduce your risk of Alzheimer's and other dementias. Retrieved November 22nd, 2023. from
16 Sarant, J., et al. (2023 July 16-20). Cognitive Function in Older Adults with Hearing Loss: Outcomes for treated vs untreated groups at 3-year follow-up [Conference poster]. AAIC 2023 Conference, Amsterdam, Netherlands.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only. You should not use the information as a substitute for, nor should it replace, professional medical advice. If you have any questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other health-care professional.