This study aimed to compare the prevalence of hearing impairment, disability and handicap in the elderly living in residential care with those living in the community, and to examine the relationship between impairment, disability and handicap in both groups. Fifty community-based and 129 residential subjects were assessed using pure-tone audiometry as a measure of impairment, and a self-assessment questionnaire as a measure of disability and handicap. Community-based subjects were also assessed using a test of speech discrimination as an objective measure of disability. Results indicated 95% of residential subjects and 70% of community-based subjects were hearing-impaired, while 27% of residential subjects and 42% of community-based subjects demonstrated significant disability/handicap. Significant correlations were obtained between impairment, disability and handicap in both subject groups. The implications of the findings for the aural rehabilitation of the elderly are discussed.
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