Exploring the Impact of Hearing Aid Use on Cognitive Health in Older Adults: Insights from the ENHANCE Study

Exploring the Impact of Hearing Aid Use on Cognitive Health in Older Adults: Insights from the ENHANCE Study

by | Jun 19, 2024 | Hearing Loss

As the global population ages, the prevalence of both hearing loss and dementia continues to rise. Hearing loss is now recognized as a significant modifiable risk factor for dementia, underscoring the importance of investigating interventions that could potentially mitigate cognitive decline. 

The ENHANCE study aimed to explore how the use of hearing aids might influence cognitive outcomes in older adults over a three-year period. The findings of this study could have profound implications for public health strategies aimed at reducing dementia risk. 

The ENHANCE Study: A Closer Look 

The ENHANCE study was a prospective, longitudinal observational cohort study designed to compare cognitive outcomes between first-time hearing aid users and a control group of community-living older adults with or without a hearing loss.  

Participants in the study were assessed at baseline, 18 months, and 36 months by using standardized cognitive measures. 


  • Hearing Aid Users: 160 patients from an audiology clinic with mild-to-severe hearing loss, fitted with hearing aids at baseline. The group had a mean age of 73.5 years, with 48.8% being female. 
  • Control Group: 102 participants from the Australian Imaging, Biomarkers, and Lifestyle Flagship Study of Aging (AIBL), with a mean age of 74.5 years and 55.9% female. This group included individuals with normal hearing and untreated hearing loss. 

Key Findings 

1. Cognitive Stability with Hearing Aids:

  • The hearing aid users maintained cognitive stability over the three-year period. 
  • In contrast, the control group without hearing aids experienced declines in working memory, visual attention, and psychomotor function. 

2. Visual Learning and Psychomotor Function:

  • The hearing aid group showed no decline in visual learning and exhibited a significantly slower rate of decline in visual attention and psychomotor function compared to the AIBL group. 

3. Education Effects:

  • When controlling for education levels, hearing aid users still performed better in visual attention and psychomotor function, particularly among those with lower education levels. 

4. Physical Activity:

  • Physical activity did not significantly affect cognitive performance trajectories, highlighting the specific impact of hearing aid use on cognitive stability. 

Implications for Public Health 

The results of the ENHANCE study suggest that hearing aids can play a crucial role in maintaining cognitive function and potentially delaying cognitive decline in older adults. 

This highlights the importance of addressing hearing loss as part of a comprehensive strategy to mitigate dementia risk. Given the non-invasive nature of hearing aids and their significant benefits, promoting their use among older adults could be a valuable public health initiative. 

Pacific Hearing Inc. is dedicated to improving the quality of life for our patients through innovative hearing solutions. Our experienced audiologists are committed to providing personalized care and state-of-the-art treatments.  

If you or a loved one is experiencing a hearing loss, consider the potential cognitive benefits of hearing aids and consult with our experts today. 

For more detailed information on the ENHANCE study, you can access the full research article here. 

Looking after Your Future Self 

The ENHANCE study provides compelling evidence that hearing aids not only improve hearing but also play a significant role in maintaining cognitive health in older adults.

As we continue to explore the relationship between hearing loss and cognitive decline, it becomes increasingly clear that early intervention with hearing aids could be a key strategy in delaying the onset of dementia and improving the overall quality of life for older adults. 

Pacific Hearing Inc. is at the forefront of this important field, offering advanced hearing solutions that cater to the unique needs of each patient. Our commitment to excellence in audiological care ensures that our patients receive the best possible outcomes, both in terms of hearing and cognitive health. 

If you are considering hearing aids, you can contact us to learn more about how we can help you achieve better hearing and a healthier mind. 

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Gregory Frazer, PhD, AuD, CCC-A, ABA, NBC-HIS

Adjunct Professor UCSD/San Diego State U Audiology Program Adjunct Professor University of Pacific Audiology Program Adjunct Professor AT Still University Audiology Program Adjunct Professor Pacific University Audiology Program Dr. Gregory Frazer entered private practice Audiology and Hearing Aid Dispensing in 1982. For 14 years he owned and operated Hearing Care Associates, which had 23 offices and was one of the largest audiology private practices in the U.S. Dr. Frazer is a well-known clinician and teacher and was the first audiologist to obtain dual doctorates in Audiology, both a PhD. in Audiology as well as the new Clinical Doctorate of Audiology, the AuD. He is Board Certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, American Academy of Audiology, and the National Certification in Hearing Instrument Sciences. Dr. Frazer specializes in the evaluation and treatment of vertigo, dizziness, and hearing and balance disorders. Dr. Frazer is experienced in working with infants, children, and adults. He is semi-fluent in Spanish and Sign Language.

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