Undiagnosed Hearing Loss Means More Isolation

Many senior citizens with undiagnosed or untreated hearing problems are more likely to suffer from social isolation and cognitive impairment. a recent study has found.

An Article published in the June 2016 edition of Ear and Hearing, researchers at the University of British Columbia, UBC Okanagan, examined the impact of undiagnosed or untreated hearing issues in seniors aged 60 to 69.  The study found that for every 10 dB decrease (roughly equivalent to the sound of calm breathing) in hearing sensitivity, the odds of isolation increased by 52%.

“Hearing loss is not thought of as a public health issue, there are often not a lot of healthcare resources that have been put towards testing and hearing support, ” says Paul Mick, MD, an otologic surgeon, public health researcher, and clinical assistant professor at UBC’s Southern Medical Program.  “Social isolation has been shown to have similar impacts on mortality rates as smoking and alcohol consumption, so this is something we should examine further at both the system and individual patient level.”

In a UBC announcement about the study, Dr. Mick said he would like to expand his research to see if interventions, such as regular hearing screening programs similar to those for young children, could positively impact health outcomes for Canadian seniors.

The Hearing Review
Vol 23 No 9 September 2016

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