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Aging Ment Health. 2020 Feb 18:1-8. doi: 10.1080/13607863.2020.1727847. [Epub ahead of print]

Social factors may mediate the relationship between subjective age-related hearing loss and episodic memory.

Author information

1
Trinity College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland.
2
Centre for Public Health, Queen's University Belfast, Belfast, UK.
3
School of Applied Psychology, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland.
4
School of Business, National College of Ireland, Dublin, Ireland.

Abstract

Objectives: To investigate whether the relationship between subjective age-related hearing loss (SARHL) and episodic memory functioning is mediated by measures of social functioning.Methods: Using data from 8,163 adults over 50 that participated in the Irish Longitudinal Study of Ageing (three waves, each two years apart), we used a multiple mediation model within a Structural Equation Modelling framework to explore potential social mediators of the relationship between SARHL and episodic memory functioning, controlling for demographic and health covariates.Results: Neither the direct effect of self-reported hearing difficulties on memory functioning (β = -.03), nor the total effect (β = .01), were significant. A small inconsistent indirect effect of self-reported hearing difficulties on episodic memory via weekly social activity engagement (β = -.002) was found.Conclusions: Self-reported hearing difficulties may exert an indirect effect on episodic memory via weekly social activity engagement. The findings may have implications for identification of individuals at risk of memory decline in later life.

KEYWORDS:

Age-related hearing loss; causal mechanism; cognitive decline; cognitive impairment; dementia; episodic memory

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