Do You Hear What I Hear?
Read Part 1 of this article here.
…“untreated hearing loss can increase the risk of dementia by 50% and depression by 40%.”
It is vital for clinicians and patients to realize the severe impact that hearing loss can have on occupational health and daily living. Because many patients are uncomfortable with pursuing treatment options and, particularly, using hearing aids, they may suffer much longer than they need to.1 Loneliness, lack of connection, depression, and social anxiety are linked to hearing loss. Wanting to participate in life’s activities but struggling with feelings of embarrassment when trying to connect with others is commonly reported. For those living alone or for geriatric patients who are already dealing with decreased social interaction, these feelings are amplified. Many patients report that holding conversations or even watching the news is uncomfortable.1 Loneliness is now considered as hazardous as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, because it vastly increases rates of dementia, depression, and death.2 Socialization and participating in various activities related to hearing—such as watching television, listening to music, participating in discussions and healthy debating—are all part of mental wellness.
While it is difficult to comment on the causation vs correlation of depression and age-related hearing loss, there seems to be a cyclic and confounding effect between the two. According to a study published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, untreated hearing loss can increase the risk of dementia by 50% and depression by 40%.3 While adults over 65 years of age currently comprise 13% of the American population, they account for 20% of all deaths related to suicide.4 Approaching depression from the scope of hearing loss may allow patients to retain some sense of semblance in their lives and mitigate some other causes of depression.1 With newer and smaller hearing aid options coming to market, this disease state really needs to be destigmatized. Arming both patients and providers with the proper information in reference to hearing loss, isolation, depression, and cognitive decline will allow more people to age with dignity and the ability to hear as best they can.
Dr. Justin Golub, Associate Professor at Columbia University’s Department of Otolaryngology & Head and Neck Surgery, will present on the impact of hearing loss on depression, and neurological decline, on Friday 9/30 at BRAINWeek 2022
- Sharpe R. (2019, September 12). Untreated hearing loss linked to loneliness and isolation for seniors. NPR. Retrieved September 19, 2022, from https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2019/09/12/760231279/untreated-hearing-loss-linked-to-loneliness-and-isolation-for-seniors#:~:text=Hearing%20loss%20affects%201%20of,%25%2C%20one%20Dutch%20study%20showed.
- Lin FR, Yaffe K, Xia J, et al. Hearing Loss and Cognitive Decline in Older Adults. JAMA Intern Med. 2013;173(4):293-299. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.1868