Ben Squires


Negative feelings can affect hearing

Negative feelings can affect hearing

A recent study has revealed that older adults who have negative feelings toward ageing are less likely to perform well in hearing tests due to confidence issues.

The study, led by the University of Toronto in Canada, explored the associations among three variables in the same group of older adults: views on aging, self-perceptions about one's hearing and memory ability, and one's actual performance in those skills.

Published in the journal Psychology and Aging, it involved 301 older participants aged from 56 to 96 who completed a series of tests on hearing and memory, and who also underwent assessments of their views and potential concerns about getting older.

The participants were asked to listen to and repeat a list of five words straight away, and then recall them again after a wait of five minutes.

To assess participants' perception about their own hearing and memory abilities, the researchers asked them to respond to a series of questions and statements. For example, whether they agreed or disagreed with statements like: "I am good at remembering names," or "I can easily have a conversation on the phone."

The participants were also asked to rate their level of concern about being able to find contentment, being alone as they aged or about losing their independence, or being more forgetful as they got older.

When they analysed the results, the team found that participants who had negative views about aging – and who believed they had problems with their hearing and memory - also performed less well on tests of those abilities.

First author Alison Chasteen says "People's feelings about getting older influence their sensory and cognitive functions. Those feelings are often rooted in stereotypes about getting older and comments made by those around them that their hearing and memory are failing."

Professor Chasteen also suggested that older adult could benefit from learning how to proactively change their ageing experience. This can be done through hearing, memory and physical exercises and casting off stereotypes of ageing.

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