Addressing Hearing Loss May Improve Care of Older Adults

Addressing Hearing Loss May Improve Care of Older Adults

In Family & Relationships, Hearing Health, Hearing Loss, Research by Zach Kenealey, HIS

Zach Kenealey, HIS

Hearing loss has multifaceted effects that impact more than one’s hearing health. Though hearing loss is the third most common chronic medical condition people experience today, affecting over 48 million people, it remains undertreated. It is estimated that only one-third of people who could benefit from treatment, actually receive it. This highlights that millions of people live with untreated hearing loss which can take a toll on daily life in a myriad of ways. This includes impacting healthcare by contributing to breakdowns in healthcare communication as well as hospital readmission. Fortunately, treating hearing loss offers countless life-changing benefits including improving the care of older adults. 

Older Adults & Hearing Loss 

Age is one of the most significant indicators of hearing loss. As people age, they experience an increased risk of developing hearing loss. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders

  • 1 in 3 adults, ages 65-74, have hearing loss 
  • 1 in 2 adults, ages 75 and older, have disabling hearing loss 

These statistics reveal how pervasive hearing loss is among older adults. Also known as presbycusis, age-related hearing loss can be caused by a few factors. This includes the cumulative toll of exposure to loud noise, changes to the ear, and having an existing medical condition that is associated with hearing loss. Extensive research shows that conditions like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, and osteoporosis increase the risk of hearing loss. Older adults also experience an increased risk of developing these conditions which are correlated to impaired hearing. 

Impact of Hearing Loss on Healthcare 

Hearing loss produces a range of symptoms that take a toll on communication. Impaired hearing reduces a person’s capacity to perceive and process sound, making it challenging to hear and navigate conversations. Strained hearing and communication have numerous effects that impact care. Studies show that untreated hearing loss increases the risk of hospital readmission. This includes a study conducted by researchers at New York University who looked at how hearing loss impacts healthcare. The study involved collecting and assessing data from a national survey. This included 4,436 participants,  65 and older, who were hospitalized at least once in the past 3 years. Key findings include: 

  • participants who reported experiencing challenges communicating with their doctors were 32% more likely to return to the hospital in the next month. 
  • 12% reported that hearing challenges made it tough for them to communicate with healthcare providers. 

These findings support other studies that show how people with hearing loss can be more likely to experience breakdowns in healthcare communication. This can affect the implementation of treatment plans and understanding of one’s health needs as well as how to meet those needs. This emphasizes the importance of addressing hearing loss. 

How Hearing Aids Improve Care 

Fortunately, treating hearing loss is not only possible but painless. The most common way hearing loss is treated is with hearing aids. These are electronic devices that are designed to detect and process sound, providing the ears and brain with ample support. This alleviates hearing loss symptoms as well as maximizes a person’s hearing capacity. Hearing aids allow people to hear with much greater ease. Strengthened hearing health profoundly enhances speech comprehension and communication which is essential for receiving quality healthcare. 

Hearing aids equip people with significant hearing support which is especially useful in environments that are more challenging to hear in. This includes hospital and healthcare settings that have more background noise and a lot of activity. Hearing aid wearers can better hear what their healthcare providers are communicating which also means they can participate more effectively in discussing health needs. This can drastically improve care for older adults which is essential to their health and wellness. 

Prioritize Your Hearing Health 

We encourage you to prioritize your hearing health. You can do this by contacting us to schedule an appointment for a hearing consultation. This allows us to get to know you, learn about your concerns, and thoroughly assess your hearing health. Treating hearing loss offers life-changing benefits like improved care, and supporting quality living. Our practice is invested in transforming hearing health so you can fully enjoy daily life. Contact us today to get started!