Surprising Bonus of Cochlear Implants in Elderly

New research finds that cochlear implants in older people not only help with hearing loss but may also improve thinking, mood and — most significantly — memory.

Dementia word cloud

In a study published March 12, French researcher Isabelle Mosnier, of Assistance Publique-Hopitaux de Paris examined the effect of cochlear implants on elderly patients, ages 65 to 85, with profound hearing loss.

Previous research has found older people with severe to profound hearing loss are at greater risk for cognitive decline and dementia than those with normal hearing. The more severe the loss, the greater the risk. Researchers don’t know why this is, or whether one causes the other.

So far no large-scale research has determined whether using hearing aids offsets the risk, but a recent French study, using cochlear implants, found marked improvements in three areas: speech perception, quality of life (depression) and cognitive performance.

To read the full blog post, which appeared on AARP online, and about possible explanations for these promising findings, go to the full article:  Cochlear Implants Shown to Reverse Cognitive Decline 

2 thoughts on “Surprising Bonus of Cochlear Implants in Elderly

  1. This study of 94 people provided the patients with” hearing and speech therapy twice a week for 12 months, ” an unheard of luxury for most people with severe/
    profound hearing loss who wear hearing aids. I would like to see a study of the
    effects of the same kind of intensive therapy for 94 people who wear hearing aids and cannot have a CI for medical reasons. Although the gains may not be as great for the aided people, I would not be surprised if there was a marked improvement in their cognitive skills and emotional state.

    “All patients then entered hearing and speech therapy, twice a week for 12 months. Researchers found improvements in speech perception in both quiet and noisy settings, with the larger improvement in the first six months.”


  2. Ruth, I agree with you that 12 months of speech/language therapy twice a week is a luxury beyond almost all of us. But I do think that both hearing aid dispensers and audiologists should always recommend some kind of rehab therapy. There are good programs online, and even listening to recorded books and checking yourself against written text is a way to hone your listening skills.

    As I tried to indicate in the essay, it’s not at all clear to me whether it was the implants or the intensive therapy that made a difference. But the important things are 1) if you are profoundly deaf you should maybe try a cochlear implant, no matter what your age is and 2), auditory rehabilitation is key.

    Thanks for your comment.


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