Associations of Hearing Loss and Depressive Symptoms With Incident Disability in Older Adults: Health, Aging, and Body Composition Study

Nicole M. Armstrong, Jennifer A. Deal, Joshua Betz, Stephen Kritchevsky, Sheila Pratt, Tamara Harris, Lisa C. Barry, Eleanor M. Simonsick, Frank R. Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


BACKGROUND: Depressive symptoms and hearing loss (HL) are independently associated with increased risk of incident disability; whether the increased risk is additive is unclear. METHODS: Cox Proportional Hazards models were used to assess joint associations of HL (normal, mild, moderate/severe) and late-life depressive symptoms (defined by a score of ≥8 on the 10-item Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression scale) with onset of mobility disability (a lot of difficulty or inability to walk ¼ mile and/or climb 10 steps) and any disability in activities of daily living (ADL), among 2,196 participants of the Health, Aging and Body Composition Study, a cohort of well-functioning older adults aged 70-79 years. Models were adjusted for age, race, sex, education, diabetes, hypertension, and body mass index. RESULTS: Relative to participants with normal hearing and without depressive symptoms, participants without depressive symptoms who had mild or moderate/severe HL had increased risk of incident mobility and ADL disability (hazard ratio [HR] for mobility disability, mild HL:1.34, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.09, 1.64 and HR for mobility disability, moderate/severe HL: 1.37, 95% CI: 1.08, 1.75 and HR for ADL disability, mild HL: 1.32, 95% CI: 1.08, 1.63, and HR for ADL disability, moderate/severe HL: 1.42, 95% CI: 1.11, 1.82). Among participants with depressive symptoms, mild HL (HR: 1.71, 95% CI: 1.09, 2.70) was associated with increased risk of incident mobility disability. CONCLUSIONS: Independent of depressive symptoms, risk of incident disability was greater in older adults with HL, regardless of severity. Further research into HL interventions may delay disability onset.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)531-536
Number of pages6
JournalThe journals of gerontology. Series A, Biological sciences and medical sciences
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 14 2020



  • ADL disability
  • Depressive symptoms
  • Hearing loss
  • Mobility disability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology

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