|Title||Sensory impairment and depressive symptoms among older adults before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||2023|
|Authors||Xu, S, Wang, H, Song, Q, Burr, JA|
|Journal||Aging Ment Health|
|Date Published||2023 Aug 07|
|Keywords||Emotional well-being; hearing impairment; public health crisis; social networks; visual impairment.|
OBJECTIVES: This study examined the associations between sensory impairment (SI), lack of social contact during the COVID-19 pandemic, and depressive symptoms among Americans aged 50 and above.
METHODS: We employed data from the 2018 and 2020 Health and Retirement Study ( = 13,460) to examine four SI groups: no SI, visual impairment (VI) only, hearing impairment (HI) only, and dual sensory impairment (DSI). First, multilevel models were employed to estimate the associations between SI and depressive symptoms before and during the pandemic using the full dataset ( = 13,460). Second, linear regression models were employed to estimate the moderation effect of lack of social contact during the pandemic using the 2020 wave data only ( = 4,133).
RESULTS: Among older adults, 15.60% had VI only, 10.16% had HI only, and 9.66% had DSI. All SI groups reported significantly more depressive symptoms than the no SI group. The differences between older adults with VI and DSI and those without SI regarding depressive symptoms narrowed during the pandemic. There was no statistically significant moderation effect of lack of social contact for SI and depressive symptoms.
CONCLUSION: Older adults with SI faced mental health challenges and demonstrated psychological resilience during the pandemic. Future research should examine other risk factors that may modify the relationship between SI and mental health during public health crises.