Hearing, voice problems worsen seniors' communication skills

May 31, 2009

Hearing and vocal problems go hand-in-hand among the elderly more frequently than previously thought, according to researchers at Duke University Medical Center. Together, they pack a devastating double punch on communication skills and overall well-being.

"It's important to realize these disabilities often occur concurrently," says Seth Cohen, MD, an otolaryngologist at the Duke Voice Care Center. "And when they do, they can increase the likelihood of depression and ."

Nearly half of people age 65 and older have some degree of , according to previously published reports, and about one-third of elderly adults have vocal problems including dysphonia, more commonly known as hoarseness. Taken apart, the disabilities have been linked in the elderly to increased depression, anxiety and social isolation.

In a study presented at the American Laryngological, Rhinological and Otological Society, (aka the Triological Society) in Phoenix, Cohen found that nearly 11 percent of the 248 participants with a median age of 82.4 had both disabilities. And, those respondents had greater depression scores.

While Cohen's study did not prove a direct cause and effect link between hearing loss and dysphonia, he says there appears to be a causal relationship.

"When people have trouble hearing, they strain their voices to hear themselves. Likewise, people may strain their voices if their communication partners can't hear." Because there is effective treatment for both hearing loss and dysphonia, he says it's important that people with one disability be evaluated for the other.

"We need to take a more global view of communication function in the elderly," he stresses.

Source: Duke University Medical Center (news : web)

Explore further: Medtronic spends $350M on another European deal

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Study examines prevalence of hearing loss in the US

Jul 28, 2008

Hearing loss may be more prevalent in American adults than previously reported, according to a study in the July 28 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Genes influence age-related hearing loss

Nov 14, 2007

A new Brandeis University study of twins shows that genes play a significant role in the level of hearing loss that often appears in late middle age. The research, in the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences, examined geneti ...

Study: Can hearing voices be a good thing?

Sep 13, 2006

British psychologists have launched a study to determine why some people who hear voices consider it a good experience, while others find it distressing.

Recommended for you

Medtronic spends $350M on another European deal

6 hours ago

U.S. medical device maker Medtronic is building stronger ties to Europe, a couple months after announcing a $42.9 billion acquisition that involves moving its main executive offices across the Atlantic, where it can get a ...

Mind over matter for people with disabilities

Aug 26, 2014

People with serious physical disabilities are unable to do the everyday things that most of us take for granted despite having the will – and the brainpower – to do so. This is changing thanks to European ...

Ukraine's former world's tallest man dies

Aug 25, 2014

Ukraine's tallest man, who briefly held the world record but gave it up to live as a recluse, has died due to complications from the condition that saw him never stop growing, local media reported Monday.

User comments : 0