By Renée Lefrançois

Undiagnosed hearing loss in the elderly has a host of significant impacts. These can include loneliness and depression, and recent research correlates it with an earlier onset and/or more severe presentation of dementia.

With clinicians now required to wear masks and remain at safe distances, communication with patients becomes even more challenging for those with reduced hearing.

SHOEBOX recently worked with a geriatric health-care organization that offered hearing assessments to every patient upon admission. Their intent was to ensure the clinical teams knew the hearing ability of each patient before beginning treatment.

Equipping frontline workers with SHOEBOX QuickTest—a simple screening device that let them quickly identify the patients needing additional attention— they found 98 percent of patients had reduced or very reduced hearing ability. Not surprising given the incidence of presbycusis in the population they serve. What was surprising was that over 50 percent of the patients had never been diagnosed with hearing loss.

Those patients were provided an amplification device (pocket talker) to aid in conversations with every care provider from admission to diagnosis and treatment plans to discharge. This one simple step at the beginning of the visit provided a safe and effective patient-centric approach to providing care. Care that enables each patient to more actively participate in their health and treatment plans.

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This article is a part of the March/April 2022 Audiology Today issue.

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