As we age, issues arise that once were never given a second thought. Mobility issues such as whether or not to still drive a car to get from point A to point B might become a matter you and your family begin to struggle over.
Medical conditions that become more chronic as you age may begin to impede on your mobility, keeping you at home far more often than you would like. Then there is the battle with the senses, in particular, hearing loss.
The Toll Of Hearing Loss
Hearing loss can take a toll on both the physical and emotional health of anyone, but especially for seniors. At least that’s what a new study conducted by the Columbia University Irving Medical Center seems to suggest. This study found that treatment of hearing loss late in life is under-recognized and under-treated. And, it could be a major contributing factor in late life depression.
And while people of all ages struggle with similar issues, especially depression, this particular condition can have severe consequences for a senior already trying to grapple with the increased isolation that has arisen from growing older.
This particular study focused on hearing loss in Latinos over the age of 50, and an underrepresented portion of the population due to language and cultural barriers. 5,239 people participated in the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos. They were asked to undergo a simple audiometric hearing test to objectively measure their hearing loss if present. They were also screened for signs of depression.
Signs Of Depression And Hearing Loss
What researchers found was significant. People who had at least mild hearing loss were twice as likely to demonstrate major signs of depression than those who had normal hearing in the same age group. While this particular study cannot claim a causal relationship between hearing loss and depression, it is a clear sign that there are consistent currents between hearing loss and depressive symptoms.
According to study lead author Justin S. Golub, MD, MS, assistant professor of otolaryngology-head & neck surgery at Columbia university Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, “It’s understandable how hearing loss could contribute to depressive symptoms. People with hearing loss have trouble communicating and tend to become more socially isolated, and social isolation can lead to depression.”
One Of Many Similar Studies
This particular study focused on Hispanics, but it does serve as a launching off point for future studies. And past studies in the same field indicate similar consistencies between hearing loss and mental health, not to mention cognitive decline, accidents, hospitalization, and sickness.
If you are age 50 or older and you have not had your hearing tested, now is the time to do so. Keeping your hearing health in peak condition can help keep you off the path toward other significant conditions including depression. If you’d like more information on the links between hearing loss and depression or other physical and mental conditions, please don’t hesitate to call our office today to speak with a qualified hearing health professional.