Researchers: Dr Helen Nuttall, Professor Chris Plack, and Dr Kate Slade.
Research suggests that both social isolation and hearing loss may have a negative impact on cognitive function in older age; social interaction has been identified as a protective factor against dementia, while hearing loss has been suggested to be a risk factor in a recent report. For people with hearing loss, communication is particularly hard and tiring in social situations with lots of background noise, this can cause older adults to withdraw from socialising, leading to loneliness and isolation. It is possible that the relationship between hearing loss and cognitive function in later life is worsened by social isolation. Now more than ever, as many people being asked to shield or isolate due to Covid-19, it is essential to understand the impact of social isolation on both cognitive and sensory function in older adults. As such, this research funded by UK Research and Innovation aims to investigate the relationship between social interaction, cognitive function, and hearing function; in the hope to shed some light on the impact of social isolation during the pandemic. Click here to read about this research in our feature in the Lancaster Guardian.