It has been observed that as people get old, they tend to cut from the society. Their interaction among the members of the family and society declines and they confine their discussions to a few selected people. Sadly, this kind of behavior is even more elevated in the elderly struggling with hearing. That is why a research by the University of Gothenburg of Sweden have been studying and advocating the importance of treating hearing loss in the old age.
The research carried out by the university studied the behavior of 400 individuals from an age range of 80 to 98 for a period of 6 years. The individuals were assessed for various physical, mental, social and personality traits every 2 years with the aim of studying the extraversion and inclination of an individual towards the society his/her emotional stability while being a part of the dynamic society of today.
When the results were finally published in 2014, it was found that although the emotional stability of the participants remained constant over the period, their participation in the discussions and other social events decreased. At first, it was expected that this decline in social activities might be due to the physical abilities, sickness in general or age-related factors. However, the real reason for the decline was found to be hearing loss in the elderly. Not only was this unexpected, this was also a big challenge because nobody had thought of it earlier.
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As per the researchers, this was the first longitudinal study ever conducted that successfully established a relationship between reduced social behavior of the elderly and the problem of hearing loss suffered by them. As per Anne Ingeborg Berg, PhD, licensed psychologist and researcher at the Department of Psychology, University of Gothenburg, the researchers were expecting the decline in social behavior due to declining health and functional capacities of the older people but the fact that hearing loss is the primary reason for the decreased social interaction, has given a new perspective to the problem. It can be said that since the perceived quality of social interaction goes down, so does the will to interact and stay among the masses of people.
Apart from this, the study has also thrown light on the personality development that happens later in the life and directly points towards the need of treating hearing loss in the elderly. Also, it was found that although hearing implants improve the quality of social interaction, the elderly need more than just hearing aids to keep in touch with the rest of us.