Severity of age-related hearing loss is associated with impaired activities of daily living


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Abstract

Background: age-related hearing loss is a common chronic condition; hence, it is important to understand its influence on the functional status of older adults. We assessed the association between hearing impairment with activity limitations as assessed by the activities of daily living (ADL) scale.Methods: a total of 1,952 Blue Mountains Hearing Study participants aged ≥60 years had their hearing levels measured using pure-tone audiometry. A survey instrument with questions on functional status as determined by the Older Americans Resources and Services ADL scale was administered.Results: one hundred and sixty-four (10.4%) participants reported ADL difficulty. A higher proportion of hearing impaired than non-impaired adults reported difficulties in performing three out of the seven basic ADL and six out of the seven instrumental ADL tasks. After multivariable adjustment, increased severity of hearing loss was associated with impaired ADL (Ptrend = 0.001). Subjects with moderate to severe hearing loss compared with those without, had a 2.9-fold increased likelihood of reporting difficulty in ADL, multivariate-adjusted odds ratio (OR): 2.87 [95% confidence interval (CI): 1.59–5.19]. Participants aged <75 years with hearing loss compared with those without, had 2-fold higher odds of impaired ADL. Having worn or wearing a hearing aid was also associated with a 2-fold increased likelihood of impaired ADL.Conclusion: functional status as measured by a common ADL scale is diminished in older hearing impaired adults. Our findings suggest that severely diminished hearing could make the difference between independence and the need for formal support services or placement.

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