July 13, 2016 -- Lia Best
Interesting research has just been published about the risk of untreated hearing loss and social isolation in the aging population. This research was conducted at UBC Okanagan by Dr. Paul Mick, a physician and clinical assistant professor. It was recently published in the journal Ear and Hearing. A link to the published article can be found here.
Dr. Mick studied the impacts of undiagnosed or untreated hearing loss in a patient population aged 60-69 and found that for every 10 decibel drop in hearing sensitivity, the odds of social isolation increased by 52%. Among the same group of seniors, a 10 decibel drop in hearing was also associated with cognitive declines equivalent to almost 4 years of chronological aging.
This research was collected by analyzing data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey in the United States. They concluded that people in this age range would benefit from a hearing evaluation to detect those individuals that might be more susceptible to social isolation and cognitive decline as a result of declining hearing sensitivity.
Future research will examine whether interventions such as hearing aids, will help to reduce the effects of hearing loss on social isolation and cognitive decline.
Dr. Mick explains that social isolation has been shown to have similar impacts on mortality rates compared to smoking and alcohol consumption and it is something that should be investigated further.
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