Association between sensory loss and social outcomes: A preliminary report
Hearing and vision loss are common in the elderly and may interfere with social interaction. We aimed to determine if hearing loss, vision loss and dual sensory loss were associated with reduced social network diversity, social participation, availability of social support, and loneliness, respectively, in a population-based sample of older Canadians and whether age or sex modified the associations.
A cross-sectional telephone survey of 21,241 individuals was conducted. The sample was nationally representative of English- and French-speaking non-institutionalized 45-85 year old Canadians who did not live on First Nations reserves and had normal cognition. Participants with missing data for any of the variables in the multivariate regression models were excluded from analysis. Hearing and vision loss were determined by self-report. Dual sensory loss was defined as reporting both hearing and vision loss. We used multivariate regression models to analyze cross- sectional associations between each type of sensory loss and social network diversity, social participation, availability of social support, and loneliness.
Vision loss (in men) and dual sensory loss (in 65-85 year olds) were independently associated with reduced social network diversity. Vision loss and dual sensory loss (in 65- 85 year olds) were each independently associated with reduced social participation. All forms of sensory loss were associated with both low availability of social support and loneliness.
Sensory impairment is associated with reduced social function in older Canadians. Interventions and research that address the social needs of older individuals with sensory loss are needed.
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