Having hearing problems increases the risk of cognitive impairment and poorer daily functions.

Self-reported hearing problems are associated with reduced cognitive and physical functions in older adults, according to a Chinese study. The study also found that cognitive function was indirectly influenced by self-reported hearing problems via social isolation.

The study found a positive association between self-reported hearing difficulties and the risk of cognitive impairment. Self-reported hearing difficulties also increased the risk of disability in “activities of daily living” (ADL) and “instrumental activities of daily living” (IADL).

Two to three times increased risk

The risk of cognitive impairment was nearly three times as high (2.93) for participants with hearing difficulty than those without hearing difficulty. Hearing difficulties also more than doubled the risk of poorer functioning in terms of activities in daily living and instrumental activities in daily living, with a risk ratio of 2.10 and 2.39, respectively.

Social isolation

Social isolation mediated the association of self-reported hearing difficulties with cognitive function, but not with physical function. Self-reported hearing difficulties were positively associated with social isolation and social isolation was significantly associated with cognitive impairment.

The study was based on observations among 16,786 participants aged 65 and older in the Chinese Longitudinal Healthy Longevity Survey.

The study, “Does self-reported hearing difficulty decrease older adults’ cognitive and physical functioning? The mediating role of social isolation”, was published in the journal Maturitas.

Sources: pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov and the journal Maturitas

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