Hearing Impairment and Incident Frailty in English Community-Dwelling Older Adults

Hearing impairment is common in later life and is estimated to affect 20% of adults in Great Britain aged 60 and older. Age-related hearing impairment has been associated with comorbidity, disability, and poor quality of life, affecting independent living and overall well-being

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Image source: Franck Michel – Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Objectives: To examine the association between hearing impairment and incident frailty in older adults.

Design: Cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses with 4-year follow-up using data from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing.

Participants: Community-dwelling individuals aged 60 and older with data on hearing and frailty status (N = 2,836).

Measurements: Hearing impairment was defined as poor self-reported hearing. Having none of the five Fried frailty phenotype components (slow walking, weak grip, self-reported exhaustion, weight loss and low physical activity) was defined as not frail, having one or two as prefrail, and having three or more as frail. Participants who were not frail at baseline were followed for incident prefrailty and frailty. Participants who were prefrail at baseline were followed for incident frailty.

Conclusion: Hearing impairment in prefrail older adults was associated with greater risk of becoming frail, independent of covariates, suggesting that hearing impairment may hasten the progression of frailty.

Full reference: Liljas, A.E.M. et al. (2017) Self-Reported Hearing Impairment and Incident Frailty inEnglish Community-Dwelling Older Adults: A 4-YearFollow-Up Study. The Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. 65(5) pp. 958–965,

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