11 February 2020

Treating hearing loss and reduced vision means more years in good health

Hearing loss and reduced vision impact both health expectancy and life expectancy among seniors, a study finds.

Hearing and vision impairment impact both life expectancy and health expectancy, meaning the duration of life with and without health problems among older adults, according to a study carried out by researchers at DUKE-NUS Medical School in Singapore.

The researchers examined the impact of self-reported vision and hearing impairment on years of life with and without limitations to physical functions and in daily activities.

In the study, older adults with either vision or hearing impairments or both could expect to live more years with limitations to their physical functions and their daily activities and have fewer years without limitations to their physical functions and their daily lives compared to people who did not have any impairments. The difference was most pronounced for those with both impairments compared to those with neither impairment.

Hearing loss only

In 2009, 40.6% of those with hearing loss experienced limitations to physical functions and 20.8% experienced limitations in their daily activities, compared to 28.2% and 8.9% for those without any impairments. In 2011, 52.2% of those with hearing loss experienced limitations in physical functions and 26.6% experienced limitations in daily activities, compared to 29% and 9.7% among those with no impairments. In 2015, the figures had risen to 60.4% and 29.4% respectively for limitations to physical functions and limitations in daily activities for those with hearing loss compared to 40.7% and 12.4% for those with no impairments.

More impairments with age

During the surveys from 2009 to 2015, the percentage of older adults with vision impairment rose from 12% to 17%. The percentage of people with hearing impairment rose from 6% to 9%. The percentage of people who had both impairments rose from 9% to 13%. A substantial proportion, 34.6% from the surveys in 2009 to 2011 and 42.7% from the survey in 2011 to 2015, experienced a change in their vision and hearing impairment status.

About the study

In the study, 3,452 participants were interviewed in 2009, followed up in 2011 and again in 2015 using a nationally representative longitudinal survey of community-dwelling older adults aged 60 years or older from the Panel on Health and Ageing of Singaporean Elderly.

The study, “The Impact of Self-Reported Vision and Hearing Impairment on Health Expectancy”, was published in Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Sources: www.sciencedaily.com, www.medicalxpress.com  and Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.