Association of Hearing Impairment with Declines in Physical Functioning and the Risk of Disability in Older Adults

Health ABC study

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57 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: Identifying factors associated with functional declines in older adults is important given the aging of the population. We investigated if hearing impairment is independently associated with objectively measured declines in physical functioning in a community-based sample of older adults.

Methods: Prospective observational study of 2,190 individuals from the Health, Aging, and Body Composition study. Participants were followed annually for up to 11 visits. Hearing was measured with pure-tone audiometry. Physical functioning and gait speed were measured with the Short Physical Performance Battery (SPPB). Incident disability and requirement for nursing care were assessed semiannually through self-report.

Results: In a mixed-effects model, greater hearing impairment was associated with poorer physical functioning. At both Visit 1 and Visit 11, SPPB scores were lower in individuals with mild (10.14 [95% CI 10.04-10.25], p <.01; 7.35 [95% CI 7.12-7.58], p <.05) and moderate or greater hearing impairment (10.04 [95% CI 9.90-10.19], p <.01; 7.00 [95% CI 6.69-7.32], p <.01) than scores in normal hearing individuals (10.36 [95% CI 10.26-10.46]; 7.71 [95% CI 7.49-7.92]). We observed that women with moderate or greater hearing impairment had a 31% increased risk of incident disability (Hazard ratio [HR] = 1.31 [95% CI 1.08-1.60], p <.01) and a 31% increased risk of incident nursing care requirement (HR = 1.31 [95% CI 1.05-1.62], p = .02) compared to women with normal hearing.

Conclusions: Hearing impairment is independently associated with poorer objective physical functioning in older adults, and a 31% increased risk for incident disability and need for nursing care in women.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)654-661
Number of pages8
JournalThe Journals of Gerontology. Series A, Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences
Volume70
Issue number5
Early online date3 Dec 2014
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2015

Keywords

  • Physical function
  • Physical performance
  • Epidemiology
  • LOWER-EXTREMITY FUNCTION
  • GAIT SPEED DECLINE
  • PERFORMANCE BATTERY
  • BODY-COMPOSITION
  • UNITED-STATES
  • SUBSEQUENT DISABILITY
  • VESTIBULAR FUNCTION
  • PROGNOSTIC VALUE
  • HEALTH
  • SURVIVAL

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)

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