Mental Health and Hearing Loss
Research has shown that hearing loss can adversely impact mood, emotional and psychological health.
In a large Norwegian study of more than 50,000 people, hearing loss was associated with symptoms of anxiety, depression, and with poor ratings for self esteem and overall wellbeing. The link was strongest in young and middle aged adults compared to older people.
Importantly, there is also evidence that hearing aid use by people with even mild to moderate hearing loss can benefit people’s social and emotional well being. Studies have found improvements in communication and decreased loneliness in older people living independently in the community; as well as improved social engagement and quality of life for older people in residential care settings.
Dementia and Hearing Loss
Rates of hearing loss and dementia both increase with age so it is not surprising that the two conditions coincide in older people. Studies have shown that hearing loss is associated with all types of dementia including Alzheimer’s disease, independently of other risk factors such as smoking, diabetes and hypertension. However there is not yet any consensus on whether hearing loss is a marker for early-stage dementia or a modifiable risk factor for dementia.
References and Further Reading
Access Economics (2006), Listen Hear! The Economic Impact and Cost of Hearing Loss in Australia, p.23 Hearing Loss and Comorbidities
Archives of Neurology (2011) 68:214-220, Hearing Loss and Incident Dementia (abstract only)
J Deaf Studies & Deaf Education (2007) 12 (1):1-7, Mental Health in Deaf Adults: Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression Among Hearing and Deaf Individuals (full text)