Researchers believe increased isolation from hearing loss could lead to additional health problems for seniors.
(Image Source: Wikimedia Commons ) BY MATT PICHT Researchers for Johns Hopkins Medicine published a new study which links hearing loss to a decline in physical and mental health. The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association , used data from a national health survey to analyze over 1,100 adults older than 70 with hearing loss. It found two-thirds of Americans over 70 years old suffer from some form of hearing loss. The study also found that older adults with hearing loss were 36 percent more likely to visit the hospital for prolonged medical treatment than adults without hearing loss. They were also 57 percent more likely to have extended periods of depression, stress, and bad moods. The study’s researchers say this illustrates a clear link between hearing loss and increased medical problems. One of the study’s lead researchers, Dr. Frank Lin, says hearing loss can have serious negative consequences on a person’s health, writing: “... social isolation resulting from hearing loss may explain the physical and mental declines — as well as the cognitive deficits — that afflict older adults. This, in turn, may lead to more illness and hospitalization.” (Via Johns Hopkins Medicine ) It’s important to remember, this study just describes a link between hearing loss and health problems; further research is needed to determine if one causes the other. But as HealthDay writes, this data could go a long way to improving healthcare for the elderly. “...it does show an association between the two. And health policymakers need to consider the broader health impact of hearing loss when making decisions for older people.” The research team is currently testing to see if hearing loss treatment can reduce the risk of cognitive decline and dementia.