AIM: The aims of the present study were to describe the trajectories of self-reported hearing difficulties over time, and evaluate the impacts of age, sex, lifestyle factors and social activity, in explaining individual differences in patterns of change over time.
METHODS: As part of the Melbourne Longitudinal Studies on Healthy Aging (MELSHA) Program, the hearing status of 947 adults aged 65 years and older, across five measurement periods (over 10 years), were analyzed using Latent Growth Curve Modeling analysis. A multidimensional survey was also administered, which included questions relating to sociodemographic variables, self-reported hearing difficulties, nutrition, smoking habits and level of social activity.
RESULTS: Although there was a general increase in hearing difficulties over time, older age, poor nutrition, a lifetime of smoking and increased social activity predicted more rapid increases in hearing difficulty over time.
CONCLUSIONS: Findings support the importance of lifestyle factors in reducing the rate of perceived hearing difficulties in older people, and provide further evidence of the links between lifestyle and sensory loss in older people. Poor nutrition and smoking are areas that both clinicians and public health professionals should address in their work with older people.