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Hearing Loss Takes Mental, Social, Physical Toll on Older People

Early identification and intervention could reduce risk for these poor health outcomes

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TUESDAY, July 30, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- Older people with hearing loss are more likely to experience outdoor activity limitations, psychological distress, and memory loss, according to a study recently published online in Geriatrics & Gerontology International.

Masao Iwagami, M.D., Ph.D., from the University of Tsukuba in Japan, and colleagues analyzed data from the 2016 Comprehensive Survey of Living Conditions in Japan, which included 137,723 older people (mean age, 74.5 years) living at home without a clinical diagnosis of dementia. The authors assessed the association between self-reported hearing loss and outdoor activity limitations, psychological distress, and self-reported memory loss.

The researchers found that 9.0 percent of participants reported hearing loss. Compared with those without hearing loss, people with hearing loss had more outdoor activity limitations (28.9 versus 9.5 percent), psychological distress (39.7 versus 19.3 percent), and memory loss (37.7 versus 5.2 percent). Comparing people with and without hearing loss, the adjusted odds ratios were 2.0 for outdoor activity limitations, 2.1 for psychological distress, and 7.1 for self-reported memory loss.

"Early identification of and intervention in hearing loss might potentially reduce the risk of these poor health outcomes," the authors write.

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