Depressive symptoms in the oldest-old: The role of sensory impairments

TitleDepressive symptoms in the oldest-old: The role of sensory impairments
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsCimarolli, V, Jopp, D, Boerner, K, Minahan, J
JournalArchives of Gerontology and Geriatrics
KeywordsCentenarians, depressive symptoms, Hearing loss, Oldest-old, Sensory impairment, Visual impairment

Background: While a fair amount of research has investigated the impact of sensory impairments on the mentalhealth of young older adults (65–79 years of age), only a few studies have focused on the associations of sensoryimpairments with mental health outcomes in the oldest-old (80 years and older). To close this gap, this studyexamined the separate and combined effects of self-reported vision and hearing impairment for depressivesymptoms in a sample of oldest-old individuals, controlling for other mental health risks (e.g., functional dis-ability, health interference, and loneliness).Methods: Centenarians and near-centenarians (N = 119; average age = 99) were recruited from the communityand geriatric healthcare organizations. In-person interviews were conducted at participants’place of residence.Results: Vision impairment and its interaction with hearing impairment as well as functional disability, healthinterference with desired activities, and loneliness were significant predictors of depressive symptoms in hier-archical regression analyses. Hearing impairment alone was not associated with depressive symptoms, butfollow-up analyses clarifying the interaction effect showed that individuals with poor vision had the highestlevels of depressive symptoms, if they had a concurrent hearing impairment. Thus, a concurrent presence of poorvision and poor hearing resulted in an increased vulnerability for depressive symptoms.Conclusions: Given that a majority of oldest-old has sensory impairments which can result in mental healthissues, it is important to facilitate this population’s access to vision and audiological treatment and rehabilita-tion.

Short TitleDepressive symptoms in the oldest-old