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Jun 28, 2024
New AARP Report: Hearing Loss Is One of the Most Modifiable Factors Leading to Dementia
Hearing loss impacts 48 million adults in the U.S.; Report urges Americans to care for their hearing to safeguard cognitive well-being

WASHINGTON—Today, AARP – on behalf of the Global Council on Brain Health – released the ‘Special Report: Hearing Matters for Brain Health,’ highlighting the importance of addressing hearing loss to promote communication and social engagement and reduce the possibility of cognitive decline and dementia. This report comes at a critical time as the growing body of evidence is clear: social isolation and loneliness, which can be associated with hearing loss, are a public health threat. According to U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, the U.S. is in the midst of a loneliness and social isolation epidemic, increasing the risk of premature death and can be as detrimental as smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day.

“Today’s report should be a wake-up call for everyone, particularly older Americans, of the importance of prioritizing hearing health to help protect against cognitive decline, including dementia,” said Sarah Lock, AARP Senior Vice President for Policy and Executive Director of the Global Council on Brain Health (GCBH). “Our report shows that – in addition to increasing risks for cognitive decline -- untreated hearing loss increases the dangers of social isolation, loneliness, anxiety, depression, and reduces quality of life and that almost half of adults in the U.S. are unaware of these risks. Through this report and the work of AARP’s Brain Health initiative, we hope to shine a light on what people can and should do about their hearing to optimize their brain health as they age.”

Declines in hearing are common in later years, affecting an estimated one-third of individuals' ages 65 to 74, and half of those over age 75. Age-related deterioration of hearing is generally not curable but can usually be treated with hearing aids that achieve the crucial goal of helping their users to hear better. This new GCBH report is extremely timely as the American Academy of Otolaryngology just published new clinical practice guidelines to treat age related hearing loss which AARP also helped develop.

According to a June 2024 AARP survey of adults aged 50+:

  • 59% have NOT had a hearing test in the last 5 years yet only 38% of all adults aged 50+ say their hearing is excellent
  • However, 78% said they would be extremely or very likely to address a hearing loss if they knew hearing loss could harm their brain health.


Specifically, the ‘Special Report: Hearing Matters for Brain Health’ makes the following recommendations:

  1. Know that hearing supports good thinking and brain health.
  2. Get your hearing checked periodically.
  3. Recognize warning signs of hearing loss.
  4. Protect your ears in noisy environments.
  5. If your hearing declines, take action as soon as you can.
  6. Be aware that uncorrected hearing loss may undermine emotional well-being.
  7. Do your homework before purchasing a hearing device.
  8. If you need a hearing aid, make sure you buy a hearing aid.
  9. Watch out for scams – look for established brands and research products to ensure safety.
  10. Don’t allow stigma to get in the way of hearing better.

Convened by AARP, The Global Council on Brain Health (GCBH) is an independent collaborative of scientists, health professionals, scholars, and policy experts from around the world who provide the public with trusted information on how to maintain brain health. The GCBH focuses on brain health relating to peoples’ ability to think and reason as they age, including aspects of memory, perception and judgment.

AARP’s Hearing Resource Center provides information – including free hearing screening tests for AARP members -- to help adults address hearing loss and urges all people to protect their hearing across the lifespan.


About AARP
AARP is the nation's largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering people 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With a nationwide presence, AARP strengthens communities and advocates for what matters most to the more than 100 million Americans 50-plus and their families: health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. AARP also produces the nation's largest circulation publications: AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visit,ñol or follow @AARP, @AARPenEspañol and @AARPadvocates on social media.

For further information: Ilse Zuniga,, 202-344-3809