Older adults with hearing loss may be more likely than peers without hearing difficulty to develop symptoms of depression, a research review suggests, according to Reuters.
Globally, more than 1.3 billion people currently live with some form of hearing loss, and their ranks are expected to rise with the aging population, the study team notes in The Gerontologist. About 13 percent of adults 40 to 49 years old have hearing loss, as do 45 percent of people 60 to 69 years old and 90 percent of adults 80 and older, the authors write.
To assess the connection between hearing loss and depression, researchers analyzed data from 35 previous studies with a total of 147,148 participants who were at least 60 years old.
Compared to people without hearing loss, older adults with some form of hearing loss were 47 percent more likely to have symptoms of depression, the study found.
“We know that older adults with hearing loss often withdraw from social occasions, like family events because they have trouble understanding others in noisy situations, which can lead to emotional and social loneliness,” said lead study author Blake Lawrence of the Ear Science Institute Australia, in Subiaco, and the University of Western Australia in Crawley.
“We also know that older adults with hearing loss are more likely to experience mild cognitive decline and difficulty completing daily activities, which can have an additional negative impact on their quality of life and increase the risk of developing depression,” Lawrence said by email.
“It is therefore possible that changes during older age that are often described as a ‘normal part of aging’ may actually be contributing to the development of depressive symptoms in older adults with hearing loss,” Lawrence said.
The connection between hearing loss and depression didn’t appear to be influenced by whether people used hearing aids, the study also found.