Functional Hearing Loss and Social Engagement Among Medicare Beneficiaries

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

OBJECTIVES: Hearing loss is common in older adults and limits communication. We investigated the independent association between functional hearing loss and social engagement in a nationally representative sample of older adults. METHODS: Using data from the 2015 Medicare Current Beneficiaries Survey, we modeled the cross-sectional association between self-reported hearing ability and limitation in social activity over the past month using multivariable logistic regression. RESULTS: The majority of the study population was female (54.8%) and non-Hispanic white (74.3%). Participants (40.4%) reported "a little trouble" hearing and 7.4% reported "a lot of trouble" hearing. Those who reported any trouble hearing had higher odds of limited social engagement in the past month. After adjustment for demographic, clinical, and functional covariates, those who reported "a lot of trouble" hearing had 37% higher odds of limited social activity in the past month compared to those with normal hearing. DISCUSSION: These results suggest that hearing loss may be an important risk factor for limited social engagement and downstream negative health consequences, independent of other disability and health conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)195-200
Number of pages6
JournalThe journals of gerontology. Series B, Psychological sciences and social sciences
Volume76
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021

Keywords

  • Epidemiology
  • Functional health status
  • Social networks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies

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