Association of Hearing Loss and Loneliness in Older Adults

J Aging Health. 2016 Sep;28(6):979-94. doi: 10.1177/0898264315614570. Epub 2015 Nov 23.


Objective: The objective of this study is to determine factors associated with loneliness in older adults presenting for hearing loss treatment.

Method: A cross-sectional analysis was conducted of 145 participants (aged 50-94) who presented for hearing aids or cochlear implants and were enrolled in the Studying Multiple Outcomes After Aural Rehabilitative Treatment (SMART) study from 2011 to 2013. Social, communicative, physical, and mental health functioning were assessed using self-administered questionnaires, and loneliness using the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Loneliness Scale.

Results: Younger age and greater hearing loss were significantly associated with greater loneliness. Metrics of depressive symptoms and hearing-related quality of life, communication difficulties, and emotional well-being, mental health, and 36-Item Medical Outcomes Study Short-Form (SF-36) scores were moderately or highly correlated with loneliness.

Discussion: Younger age and greater hearing loss are independently associated with higher levels of loneliness in older adults presenting to clinic for hearing loss treatment. Further studies needed to determine whether hearing treatment can reduce loneliness in older adults.

Keywords: aging; hearing; loneliness; quality of life; well-being.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Hearing Loss*
  • Humans
  • Loneliness*
  • Los Angeles
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Life