Hearing status in older persons: A significant determinant of depression and loneliness? Results from the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam.

ABSTRACT. Purpose: The aims were to 1) determine the longitudinal relationships between baseline hearing status and 4-year follow-up depression and loneliness in an older population, and to 2) investigate possible differences across subgroups in these relationships. Methods: We used data from two waves of the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam (4y follow-up, baseline ages 63-93). Sample sizes were 996 (self-report analyses) and 830 (speech-in-noise test analyses). Multiple linear regression analyses were used to assess the associations between baseline hearing status and 4-year follow-up of depression, social loneliness, and emotional loneliness. Hearing was measured by self-report and by speech-innoise test. Age, gender, hearing aid use, baseline depression or loneliness, and relevant confounders and effect modifiers were incorporated. Results: Both hearing measures showed significant associations with loneliness (p<0.05), but these effects were confined to specific subgroups of older persons. For instance, adverse effects were confined to non-hearing aid users (self-report, social-loneliness model) and men (self-report and speech-in-noise test, emotional-loneliness model). No significant effects appeared for depression.Discussion: We found significant adverse effects of poor hearing on loneliness for specific subgroups of older persons. Future research should further examine the subgroup effects observed. Eventually, this may contribute to the development of tailored prevention programs.