Hearing impairment (HI) is a very common condition in elderly people and the epidemiology together with hearing-related problems is still poorly investigated. Moreover, the cognitive status may be impaired in relation to hearing function. Objective:
The goal of the study was to evaluate: (a) the prevalence of HI in a random sample of elderly people aged 65 and over (n = 1,750) living in Campania, a region of southern Italy; (b) the cross-sectional relationship between hearing function and cognitive status and also depressive symptomatology and disability, and (c) to assess the role of hearing aids on depressive symptomatology. Methods:
Cross-sectional study on a random sample of elderly population. Results:
The overall participation rate in the study was 74.8% (n = 1,332, mean age was 74.2 ± 6.4 years). The prevalence rate of HI (evaluated by questionnaire) was 27.2%, cognitive impairment prevalence (evaluated by the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE)) was 27.9%, mean depressive symptomatology score (evaluated by Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS)) was 11.4 ± 6.6, while disability assessed by Activity of Daily Living (ADL) was present in 7.0% of the whole population. A strong relationship was found between both decreasing hearing function and MMSE decline, independently by the effect of age and education (r = 0.97; p < 0.01). A positive relationship (r = 0.85; p < 0.01) between GDS score and hearing function was also found. Moreover, at an increased level of hearing loss, a lower ADL score was recorded (r = 0.98; p < 0.01). Finally, the use of hearing aids reduced GDS score. In logistic regression analysis, gender, age and educational level indicate that hearing loss risk increased with age (odds ratio 1.60; 95% confidence interval 1.53–1.71), whereas education plays a protective role (odds ratio 0.75; 95% confidence interval 0.72–0.80). Conclusion:
HI is very prevalent among elderly people and is associated with either cognitive impairment and/or depression and reduction of functional status. This study suggests that hearing aids may protect against cognitive impairment and disability, improving quality of life of aged people.
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Francesco Cacciatore, MD, PhD
Via Merliani, 20
I–80127 Napoli (Italy)
Tel. +39 081 7462270, Fax +39 081 7462339
Received: Received: June 24, 1998
Accepted: March 10, 1999
Number of Print Pages : 6
Number of Figures : 2, Number of Tables : 3, Number of References : 26
Gerontology (International Journal of Experimental and Clinical Gerontoloy)
Founded 1957 by F. Verzàr as ‘Gerontologia’, merged 1975 with ‘Gerontologia Clinica’, founded 1959 by E. Woodford-Williams and A.N. Exton-Smith
Organ of the International Association of Gerontology (IAG)
Vol. 45, No. 6, Year 1999 (Cover Date: November-December 1999)
Journal Editor: W. Meier-Ruge, Basel
ISSN: 0304–324X (print), 1423–0003 (Online)
For additional information: http://www.karger.com/journals/ger
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