Some of the results were presented at the Gerontological Society of America 61st Annual Scientific Meeting, November 21 to 25, 2008, National Harbor, Maryland, and at the 19th Nordic Congress of Gerontology, May 25 to 28, 2008, Oslo, Norway.
Hearing Acuity as a Predictor of Walking Difficulties in Older Women
Article first published online: 26 OCT 2009
© 2009, Copyright the Authors. Journal compilation © 2009, The American Geriatrics Society
Journal of the American Geriatrics Society
Volume 57, Issue 12, pages 2282–2286, December 2009
How to Cite
Viljanen, A., Kaprio, J., Pyykkö, I., Sorri, M., Koskenvuo, M. and Rantanen, T. (2009), Hearing Acuity as a Predictor of Walking Difficulties in Older Women. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 57: 2282–2286. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.2009.02553.x
- Issue published online: 7 DEC 2009
- Article first published online: 26 OCT 2009
- prospective study
OBJECTIVES: To examine whether hearing acuity correlates with walking ability and whether impaired hearing at baseline predicts new self-reported walking difficulties after 3 years.
DESIGN: Prospective follow-up.
SETTING: Research laboratory and community.
PARTICIPANTS: Four hundred thirty-four women aged 63 to 76.
MEASUREMENTS: Hearing was measured using clinical audiometry. A person was defined as having a hearing impairment if a pure-tone average of thresholds at 0.5 to 4 kHz in the better ear was 21 dB or greater. Maximal walking speed was measured over 10 m (m/s), walking endurance as the distance (m), covered in 6 minutes and difficulties in walking 2 km according to self-report.
RESULTS: At baseline, women with hearing impairment (n=179) had slower maximal walking speed (1.7 ± 0.3 m/s vs 1.8 ± 0.3 m/s, P=.007), lower walking endurance (520 ± 75 m vs 536 ± 75 m, P=.08), and more selfreported major difficulties in walking 2 km (12.8% vs 5.5%, P=.02) than those without hearing impairment. During follow-up, major walking difficulties developed for 33 participants. Women with hearing impairment at baseline had a twice the age-adjusted risk for new walking difficulties as those without hearing impairment (odds ratio=2.04, 95% confidence interval=0.96–4.33).
CONCLUSION: Hearing acuity correlated with mobility, which may be explained by the association between impaired hearing and poor balance and greater risk for falls, both of which underlie decline in mobility. Prevention of hearing loss is not only important for the ability to communicate, but may also have more wide-ranging influences on functional ability.