Vision and Hearing Problems Make Older Adults less Social, Study


Older adults with vision and hearing problems refrain from actively participating in various events and activities, according to a University of Southern Denmark study.

The researchers said that impaired vision and hearing makes it difficult for the elderly to interact in noisy social situations. However, social relationships are important for older adults' quality of life. People with poorer hearing ability feel that their quality of life is not as good as those who have good hearing ability.

For the study, the researchers analysed data from the Life-Space Mobility in Old Age study, where 848 community-dwelling persons aged between 75 to 90 years were surveyed. Almost half of the subjects experienced some difficulties and one in 10 faced serious difficulties while conversing with others amid background noises.

They also analysed data from the Survey of Health, Aging and Retirement survey that included Nordic countries, Central Europe and the Mediterranean countries. Over 27,000 persons, aged 50 years or older, participated in the survey.

These studies determine the prevalence of hearing and vision problems and whether these sensory impairments are linked to social activity. They found that people with vision or hearing problems were less socially active than those without any sensory problem. Researcher Anne Viljanen said that those with both vision and hearing problems were least socially active.

The researchers believe that preventive and rehabilitative measures are essential to help older people with sensory impairments have socially active lives. It is important for people with impaired hearing to have face-face conversations as it facilitates lip-reading.

The finding is published in international scientific journals.

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