As adults age, their personality changes. New research from the University of Gothenburg demonstrates that these personality trait changes are intensified when the aging adult is hearing-impaired. The new insight in how hearing loss depression affects older persons provides increased awareness of the effects of hearing loss in our society.
This new research focused on 400 individuals aged 80-98 over a six-year time span. The subjects were tested every two years, with emphasis on specific personality characteristics including degrees of extraversion or the ability to be social. The results were insightful: even emotionally-stable aging adults became less outgoing over time. However, hearing loss seemed to be tied to heightened social isolation.
Anne Ingeborg Berg, a researcher on the project, summarized these insights, stating, “Surprisingly, we did not find that declining overall health and functional capacity make people less outgoing. But hearing loss directly affects the quality of social situations. If the perceived quality of social interaction goes down, it may eventually affect whether and how we relate to others.”
This recent study highlights the need to acknowledge and treat hearing loss among aging adults. Personality development evolves even late in life and other studies indicate that outgoing, social persons are happier. If our well-being is negatively affected by hearing loss, then there remains an opportunity to acknowledge, support, and treat persons with hearing loss.