Relating Hearing Aid Use to Social and Emotional Loneliness in Older Adults

Am J Audiol. 2016 Mar;25(1):54-61. doi: 10.1044/2015_AJA-15-0055.


Purpose: Hearing loss is a risk factor for social isolation and loneliness. We investigated the buffering effects of hearing aid use on perceived social and emotional loneliness.

Method: Forty older adults participated. Prior to and following the hearing aid fitting, participants completed the De Jong Gierveld Loneliness Scale (De Jong Gierveld & Kamphuis, 1985); a change in feelings of loneliness following hearing aid use was the outcome indicator.

Results: There was a significant decline in perceptions of loneliness following 4 to 6 weeks of hearing aid use. A dose effect emerged with persons with moderate-to-severe hearing loss experiencing the greatest reduction in perceived loneliness with hearing aid use.

Conclusion: Associated with poorer health status and higher consumption of health care services, perceived loneliness is a challenge to treat. Hearing aid use appears to be a buffer against the experience of loneliness.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Emotions
  • Female
  • Hearing Aids*
  • Hearing Loss / psychology*
  • Hearing Loss / rehabilitation
  • Humans
  • Loneliness / psychology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Social Isolation / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome