Research summary

Hearing Loss and Lack of Hearing Aid Use Associated With Dementia Risk Among Older Adults

Jessica Ganga

In older adults, hearing loss was associated with increased dementia risk among patients who did not use hearing aids. Researchers found that hearing aids may prevent or delay the onset and progression of dementia, according to a population-based cohort study.

“Hearing loss has been suggested as a risk factor for dementia, but there is still a need for high-quality research to better understand the association between these [two] conditions,” the researchers wrote.

For their study, researchers included all residents of Southern Denmark who were aged 50 years and older. Individuals with dementia before baseline were excluded from the study. The researchers’ main outcome of the study was incident cases of dementia and Alzheimer disease as identified from national registries.

In total, the study included 573,088 individuals. Of the total, 23,023 cases of dementia were noted, and the mean follow-up of patients was 8.6 years. Hearing loss among patients was associated with an increased risk of dementia (adjusted hazard ratio [HR] = 1.07 [95% CI, 1.04 to 1.11]) compared with those without hearing loss. Further, severe hearing loss in the better (HR = 1.20 [95% CI, 1.09 to 1.32]) or worse (HR = 1.13 [95% CI, 1.06 to 1.20]) ear was associated with a higher dementia risk compared with having no hearing loss in the corresponding ear.

When compared with those without hearing loss, the researchers found a risk of dementia was higher among individuals with hearing loss who were not using hearing aids (HR = 1.20 [95% CI, 1.13 to 1.27]) than those who had hearing loss and were using hearing aids (HR = 1.06 [95% CI, 1.01 to 1.10]). 

The study included limitations. The was based on register-based dementia diagnosis, so outcome misclassification was included. Further, the researchers did not know if those who received subsidized hearing aids or batteries were using their hearing aids on a regular basis.

“In this cohort study, we found an association between [hearing loss] and risk of dementia, especially among people who did not use hearing aids,” the researchers concluded. “Although the clinical relevance of these findings is still unclear, the study results suggest that treatment of [hearing loss] with hearing aids may be associated with reduced risk of dementia, which calls for a better understanding of the association between [hearing loss] and dementia as a critical step for the development of prevention strategies.”


Cantuaria ML, Pederson ER, Waldoroff FB, et al. Hearing loss, hearing aid use, and risk of dementia in older adults. JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. Published online January 4, 2024. doi:10.1001/jamaoto.2023.3509