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Memory Problems Linked to Hearing Loss in Older Adults

Study also cites reduced social activity, psychological stress

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Older people with hearing loss have a higher likelihood of experiencing memory loss, reduced social activity and higher psychological distress than others, according to a recent study.

The study examined the results of a survey of nearly 140,000 adults age 65 and over to compare social, medical and psychological factors between those reporting hearing loss and others.

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Among the 9 percent reporting hearing loss, 37.7 percent said they had memory loss, while only 5.2 percent of others reported memory loss. Recognition of hearing loss as a risk factor for dementia might be relatively new but is supported by the present findings, said the report published in the Geriatrics and Gerontology International journal.

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The report also found that 28.9 percent of those with hearing loss had a higher level of limited outside activity, such as shopping or travel, compared with 9.5 percent of those without hearing loss. And, it found that 39.7 percent with hearing loss had psychological distress, such as depression, anxiety and stress, compared with 19.3 percent of others.

The report's authors concluded that early identification of and intervention in hearing loss might potentially reduce the risk of these poor health outcomes. They also suggested hearing aids and community support could relieve isolation, which can otherwise impact social participation that plays an important role in psychological well-being.

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