The COVID-19 outbreak has caused world-wide disruption in community and social interactions. People over the age of 70, deemed as having a greater risk for severe illness, are expected to follow social distancing guidance particularly stringently and limit face-to face interactions wherever possible.
In the UK, half of people over the age of 70 live alone, so rely on connections outside of their household. The use of the phone or internet can aid communication with wider networks. However, over 70% of people over 70 also have hearing loss (HL), which may cause difficulties in holding meaningful conversations using these alternative means of contact. HL is linked with higher rates of depression and dementia, which may be caused by increased loneliness.
It is unknown how social distancing and the necessary isolation due to COVID-19 are impacting on older people with HL in terms of loneliness, depression, and cognitive decline. We want to understand how isolation due to COVID-19 is affecting people over 70 with HL. Participants will complete an online survey so we can measure the psychological effects of forced isolation.
The results will determine: a) how HL and social distancing are related to loneliness, depression, anxiety and cognitive decline and b) if people with HL require additional support during the crisis and what this support should involve.