23 Oct Japanese Study – Hearing Loss and Aging
A team of Japanese researchers at the University of Tsukuba sought out to study the relation of hearing loss among the areas of mental health, physical health and social health in individuals 65 and older. They found that hearing loss had a clear link with all three areas, especially with mental health and memory loss.
For this study, the team used a 2016 nationwide questionnaire of more than 220,000 households called the Comprehensive Survey of Living Conditions of Japan. The team of researchers focused on the 137,723 survey participants who reported being over the age of 65 without dementia.
“Japan is the world’s most rapidly aging country, and this is a large and compelling data set of its citizens,” lead author Masao Iwagami says. “It was a solid foundation for examining correlations between hearing loss and three key problems: outdoor activity limitations, psychological distress, and memory loss.”
The survey allowed for self-reported responses on conditions like hearing loss, which gave way to valuable comparisons that could be made. They found that about 9% of the 137,723 survey respondents had reported hearing loss. Their responses also showed that hearing loss increased as they aged.
Based on the responses they received, the differences between those with and without hearing loss were quite significant.
Researchers found that 28.9% of people with hearing loss were less likely to engage in outdoor and social activities like shopping or traveling. However, they found that only 9.5% of people without hearing loss were less likely to engage in the same social activities. While researching psychological distress, 39.7% of the people with hearing loss reported having varying degrees and those without hearing loss reported a far lower number at 19.3%.
However, the biggest reported difference was in memory loss. 37.7% of Individuals with hearing loss reported having difficulty with memory and only 5.2% without hearing loss. The study found that these patterns were similar irrespective of age and sex.
“Hearing loss takes an enormous toll on older people in so many ways, physically and mentally, while limiting activities of daily living,” study co-author Yoko Kobayashi says. “Greater awareness of the burden of hearing loss will help improve their quality of life. Measures such as hearing aids and social support by volunteers in the community can also provide them with assistance.”
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