Addressing Hearing Loss May Improve Care of Older Adults

Those with hearing loss understand how difficult it is to communicate when there is a lot of background noise.  Most people have been in a restaurant or a public place where the noisy environment meant that conversation was difficult or impossible. 


This is especially difficult in hospitals, where noises fill the air while doctors attempt to communicate with patients about what is going on. 


Unfortunately, when a medical emergency comes, a person’s hearing aids aren’t always worn, and in many situations, medical personnel will remove hearing aids while treating them. Worse yet, some people have hearing loss but refuse to use hearing aids. Indeed, lower-income patients who lack access to hearing aids, which would help them navigate the hospital environment better, suffer the worst in a hospital setting.

Communication issues in medical settings

According to a study by New York University, those who self-reported having trouble talking with doctors when hospitalized were 32 percent more likely to return to the hospital within one month. Patients aged 65 and up who were admitted to the hospital at least once between 2010 and 2013 were included in the study. 


According to their estimate, 12% of people had difficulty hearing what their doctors and other medical professionals said. These patients tended to be older and from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. Other researchers have noticed the pattern as well. 


Communication problems are also linked to more health issues in general and a lower self-reported health rating. It’s tough for hospital workers to connect with hard-of-hearing patients, especially when they deny they have a hearing problem. The louder a medical worker speaks, the more likely their words become distorted and cause a misunderstanding. 


Hearing loss needs to be acknowledged, by both patient and provider

We must all do our part to ensure that hearing or other forms of communication are a viable option for those with hearing loss in medical settings.


A statement on a patient’s paperwork and a sign on their bed indicating hearing loss might go a long way for hospital workers. Simply letting doctors and workers know that you have hearing loss can help prevent misinterpretation. 


Unfortunately, some patients act as though they can hear when they can’t. It can be challenging to recognize these patients as having hearing loss, leading to inadequate treatment. While the stigma associated with hearing loss is fading, it can still be a significant barrier to some patients receiving the treatment they require while in the hospital. 


Hearing loss is not a stigma but rather a fact of life for most of us as we age. It affects about one-third of Americans aged 65 to 74 and two-thirds of those aged 75 and up. Nearly all centenarians have hearing loss, meaning that we would all have hearing loss if we lived long enough. 


If you have hearing loss, the best way to ensure that you get the treatment you need to go to the hospital and feel as free and confident as you did before hearing loss became an issue is to address it immediately.


Hearing aids can help you

Join the millions of individuals getting the most out of life thanks to hearing aids! They are not only the best treatment for hearing loss currently available—they’re also better than ever. Hearing aids today connect to smartphones and other devices, automatically minimize background noise, aid spatial awareness, and improve the lives of persons with hearing problems more than ever before. 


Hearing aids are available in various styles to fit any lifestyle for people who have access to them. Everyone’s hearing needs are different, so speaking with a hearing care specialist like us can help you choose the hearing aids that are right for you. If you think you or a loved one may suffer hearing loss, schedule a hearing test now to see if hearing aids are right for you.