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February 13, 2013

Hearing loss greatly affects quality of life of older adults

Hearing impairment can affect mental and physical quality of life to a greater degree than hypertension, osteoporosis or even a stroke.

Hearing loss greatly affects quality of life of older adults

Americans aged 65 and over say that hearing impairment affects their quality of life physically and mentally to a greater degree than hypertension, stroke, osteoporosis, sciatica and cancer, according to a study. The study surveyed more than 5,500 older adults.

After taking into account all other factors that might have affected the scores, the study found that hearing loss itself resulted in an average 3.25-point reduction in Physical Component Score (PCS) and a 3.22-point reduction in Mental Component Score (MCS). These scores provide an estimate of physical and mental health status, measures which are commonly used to evaluate health-related quality of life. A change of 3.0 points or greater is generally considered clinically meaningful.

Talk with the doctor

“This survey should alert clinicians, patients and their families of the potential negative impact that hearing impairment can have on older adults' quality of life,” said Dr. Charlotte S. Yeh, chief medical officer of AARP Services, Inc. “Older adults should talk with their doctors about their hearing and learn more about what options are available if they suffer from hearing impairment.”

The study, “The Prevalence of Hearing Impairment and Its Burden on the Quality of Life Among Adults with Medicare Supplement Insurance,” appeared in the September 2012 issue of Quality of Life Research, the official journal of the International Society of Quality of Life Research. The study was conducted by AARP Services, Inc and UnitedHealthcare.


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