The prognostic value of sensory impairment in older persons

J Am Geriatr Soc. 1999 Aug;47(8):930-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.1999.tb01286.x.


Objectives: To determine the relationships between visual and hearing impairment and subsequent functional dependence and mortality among community-dwelling older persons.

Design: A Prospective, cohort study.

Setting: Community-based.

Participants: A total of 5444 men and women aged 55 to 74 years at baseline.

Measurements: Self-reported and measured visual impairment, self-reported and measured hearing impairment, self-reported and measured combined sensory impairment, 10-year mortality, and dependency in activities of daily living (ADL), instrumental ADL (IADL), and Rosow-Breslau (RB) function.

Results: In multiply-adjusted models, adjusting for length of follow-up, socio-demographic characteristics, and chronic conditions, only measured visual impairment was predictive of mortality. Measured visual impairment was also predictive of 10-year ADL and IADL dependence; measured hearing impairment was predictive of RB dependence. Self-reported visual impairment predicted functional impairment on all scales at 10 years, although self-reported hearing impairment predicted only subsequent RB dependence. Measured combined impairment was associated with the highest risk of 10-year functional dependence.

Conclusions: Sensory impairment is predictive of subsequent functional impairment in older persons.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living*
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Chronic Disease
  • Cohort Studies
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Forecasting
  • Hearing Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Self-Assessment
  • Sex Factors
  • Survival Rate
  • Vision Disorders / physiopathology*
  • White People