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Keywords:

  • the elderly;
  • hearing ability;
  • oral function;
  • self-rated health status;
  • verbal communication

Background:  Satisfactory verbal communication is necessary to improve the quality of life in elderly individuals. However, few studies have directly analyzed the factors that influence the ability to achieve satisfactory verbal communication. The purpose of the present study was to identify the physical, mental and social factors that affect self-rated verbal communication.

Methods:  A cross-sectional survey was used to obtain the required data from 197 elderly (75.5 ± 8.3 years of age) individuals in the southern area of Japan who independently carried out basic activities of daily living. Subjective evaluation on verbal communication, general health status, oral function and hearing ability were assessed using a self-administered questionnaire. Age, sex, instrumental activities of daily living, intellectual activity, social activity, cognitive status, the number of present teeth, maximum phonetic time and status regarding the use of dentures and hearing aids were also evaluated.

Results:  In bivariate analyses, self-rated verbal communication ability was significantly related to age, instrumental activities of daily living, intellectual activity, social activity, cognitive function, maximum phonation time, the number of present teeth, the wearing of dentures, self-rated general health and oral function. However, self-rated hearing ability and the wearing of hearing aids were not significantly related to self-rated verbal communication. The backward logistic regression analysis was refined until it included only two independent variables: social activity and self-rated general health status.

Conclusion:  These results suggest that social activity and self-rated general health status are the most influential factors of satisfactory verbal communication in the present model, and that self-rated verbal communication is not related to hearing factors.