Background: Hearing and vision problems are common in older adults. We investigated the association of self-reported sensory impairment with lifestyle factors, chronic conditions, physical functioning, quality of life and social interaction.
Methods: A population-based cross-sectional study of participants of the British Regional Heart Study aged 63-85 years.
Results: A total of 3981 men (82% response rate) provided data. Twenty-seven per cent (n = 1074) reported hearing impairment including being able to hear with aid (n = 482), being unable to hear (no aid) (n = 424) and being unable to hear despite aid (n = 168). Three per cent (n = 124) reported vision impairment. Not being able to hear, irrespective of use of hearing aid, was associated with poor quality of life, poor social interaction and poor physical functioning. Men who could not hear despite hearing aid were more likely to report coronary heart disease (CHD) [age-adjusted odds ratios (ORs) 1.89 (95% confidence interval 1.36-2.63)]. Vision impairment was associated with symptoms of CHD including breathlessness [OR 2.06 (1.38-3.06)] and chest pain [OR 1.58 (1.07-2.35)]. Vision impairment was also associated with poor quality of life, poor social interaction and poor physical functioning.
Conclusions: Sensory impairment is associated with poor physical functioning, poor health and poor social interaction in older men. Further research is warranted on pathways underlying these associations.
Keywords: ageing; hearing; older adults; sensory impairments; vision.
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