Hearing Impairment and Incident Frailty in Later Life: The Health in Men Study (HIMS)

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Abstract

Objectives: This study is designed to determine if hearing loss is associated with increased risk of frailty in later life. Design: A prospective cohort study. Setting and Participants: We retrieved data of a community sample of men aged 70 years and above living in the metropolitan region of Perth, Western Australia. 3,285 participants who were free of frailty at the beginning of the study were followed for up to 17 years. Data were retrieved from the Health in Men Study (HIMS) and the Western Australian Data Linkage System (WADLS). Measurements: Hearing loss was defined by self-report or by diagnosis recorded in the WADLS. Incident frailty was assessed using the Hospital Frailty Risk Score (HFRS). Results: A total of 2,348 (71.5%) men developed frailty during follow up. The adjusted hazard ratio was 1.03 (95% CI: 0.95–1.12). The majority of the participants became frail by age 90 regardless of hearing condition. The time point where half of the group become frail was delayed by 14.4 months for men without hearing loss compared with hearing impaired men. Conclusions: Hearing loss is not associated with incident frailty in men aged 70 years or older when frailty was measured by HFRS. However, this statistically non-significant result could be due to the low sensitivity of study measures. Also, we found a trend that men with hearing loss were more likely to develop frailty compared with their normal-hearing peers, suggesting a potential association between hearing loss and frailty.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)264-269
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Nutrition, Health and Aging
Volume27
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023

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