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Cochlear Implants May Fight Cognitive Decline In Older People

cochlear implants

A new study has found that a cochlear implant may improve cognition, social interactions and quality of life for older adults who have hearing loss.

The study found that, one year after receiving the implant, study participants between 65 and 85 were able to hear more clearly and most had improved cognitive abilities. Fewer also reported signs of depression compared to the control.

[quote text_size=”small” author=”– Dr. Colin Driscoll” author_title=”Chair of Otorhinolaryngology at the Rochester Mayo Clinic”]

We know older adults, when they don’t hear well, withdraw and begin to get depressed… The biggest advantage of cochlear implants is that it can restore clarity. Many patients not only have a problem with volume, but also clarity.


Researchers with the French national public assistance hospital network at Pitie-Salpetriere Hospital looked at data on 94 patients between 2006 and 2009 who received a cochlear implant, then followed up 6 and 12 months later.

Of the 37 patients who had abnormal cognition scores at the beginning, 30 had improved cognition after one year with the implant. 59% of patients had no signs of depression before the implant, compared with 76% after a year, Scientific American reported.

According to WebMD, the study has major implications, showing that improving hearing loss may improve a person’s ability to think. It also raises many questions, including whether the cause of the hearing loss matters, and how long the benefit will last, as the study stopped after a year of follow-up.

Cochlear implants are usually covered by insurance, but people typically need to meet a certain level of hearing loss to be eligible. This bar for hearing loss is especially high for Medicare, which covers elderly and disabled Americans. The cost of the device can be up to $20,000 alone, far greater than the cost of a hearing aid.

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