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

David S. Chen, Joshua Betz, Kristine Yaffe, Hilsa N. Ayonayon, Stephen Kritchevsky, Kathryn R. Martin, Tamara B. Harris, Elizabeth Purchase-Helzner, Suzanne Satterfield, Qian Li Xue, Sheila Pratt, Eleanor M. Simonsick, Frank R. Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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 (US)
Pages (from-to)654-661
Number of pages8
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series A Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences
Volume70
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2015

Keywords

  • Epidemiology
  • Physical function
  • Physical performance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology

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