COVID-19 and Its Impact on Hearing Health Care for Older Adults
As audiologists, we are acutely aware that COVID-19 and related prevention and mitigation efforts have impacted our practices and our patients.
Gaeta (2020) queried 150 older adults about their communication difficulties and thoughts on hearing health care during the COVID-19 pandemic. The majority (n=119) experienced at least some hearing difficulties, half wore hearing aids (n=76), and just over half (n=79) reported communication difficulties due to masks.
Most of the respondents had not been seen by a hearing health-care provider, either in person (n=132) or remotely (n=136), since restrictions were put in place. While most (n=135) had experience using an internet-based video communication platform like Zoom, over half (n=81) would still prefer an in-person visit.
The author uses this information, as well as other information collected in the survey, to highlight the difficulties experienced by older adults due to mask usage and the potential benefits of communication-strategies training for some of these individuals.
Gaeta (2020) suggests that this may also be a time for clinics to consider telehealth opportunities and other online learning options for this patient demographic.
Gaeta L. (2020) Survey of Hearing Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Implications for Service Delivery. Amer J Audiol29(4):944-947.