Association of hearing impairment with incident frailty and falls in older adults

Rebecca J Kamil, Joshua Betz, Becky Brott Powers, Sheila Pratt, Stephen Kritchevsky, Hilsa N Ayonayon, Tammy B Harris, Elizabeth Helzner, Jennifer A Deal, Kathryn Martin, Matthew Peterson, Suzanne Satterfield, Eleanor M Simonsick, Frank R Lin, Health ABC study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

103 Citations (Scopus)


OBJECTIVE: We aimed to determine whether hearing impairment (HI) in older adults is associated with the development of frailty and falls.

METHOD: Longitudinal analysis of observational data from the Health, Aging and Body Composition study of 2,000 participants aged 70 to 79 was conducted. Hearing was defined by the pure-tone-average of hearing thresholds at 0.5, 1, 2, and 4 kHz in the better hearing ear. Frailty was defined as a gait speed of <0.60 m/s and/or inability to rise from a chair without using arms. Falls were assessed annually by self-report.

RESULTS: Older adults with moderate-or-greater HI had a 63% increased risk of developing frailty (adjusted hazard ratio [HR] = 1.63, 95% confidence interval [CI] = [1.26, 2.12]) compared with normal-hearing individuals. Moderate-or-greater HI was significantly associated with a greater annual percent increase in odds of falling over time (9.7%, 95% CI = [7.0, 12.4] compared with normal hearing, 4.4%, 95% CI = [2.6, 6.2]).

DISCUSSION: HI is independently associated with the risk of frailty in older adults and with greater odds of falling over time.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)644-660
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Aging and Health
Issue number4
Early online date5 Oct 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2016


  • hearing impairment
  • frailty
  • falls
  • older adults
  • Health ABC


Dive into the research topics of 'Association of hearing impairment with incident frailty and falls in older adults'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this