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

Nearly half of people age 65 and older have some degree of hearing loss, according to previously published reports, and about one-third of elderly adults have vocal problems including dysphonia, more commonly known as hoarseness, say the researchers.

Taken separately, the disabilities have been linked in the elderly to increased depression, anxiety and social isolation, the researchers say.

In a study presented at the American Laryngological, Rhinological and Otological Society, (aka the Triological Society) in Phoenix, Seth Cohen, MD, an otolaryngologist at the Duke Voice Care Center, found that nearly 11% of the 248 participants with a median age of 82.4 had both disabilities. And, those respondents had greater depression scores, according to the study.

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.

[Source: Duke University]