Geriatric

Geriatric

Hearing Impairment and the Spouse

Scarinci, Worrall, and Hickson (2009) developed a unique tool (perhaps the first of its kind) to measure the spouse's disability and functioning in older couples in which only one person has hearing impairment. The 27-item questionnaire is called the Significant Other Scale for Hearing Disability (SOS-HEAR) and is used to assess the "third-party disability" in spouses of older people with hearing loss.

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Aural Rehab, MCI, Dementia, and Aging

Kricos (2009) reports that audiologists need to be aware of age-related cognitive decline. Weinstein and Amsel (1986) reported that more than 20 years ago people with hearing loss may present similarly to people with dementia. Additionally, mild cognitive impairment (MCI) needs to be considered as a possible confounding factor. Multiple studies confirm the majority of people with cognitive impairment have significant hearing loss. Gold et al (1996) found 49 of 52 individuals with Alzheimer's Disease (AD) and other cognitive impairments also had significant hearing impairments.

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Presbycusis and Genetics

Raynor, et al (2009) reviewed presbycusis trends and related demographics to estimate the possible genetic contribution to presbycusis. Three thousand five hundred and ten (3,510) participants between the ages of 48 and 100 were evaluated. In agreement with previous research, the authors determined that the prevalence of presbycusis increases with age. Additionally, they noted that familial aggregation (increased occurrence of a sign/symptom/disorder within close relatives) is stronger in women than men.

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Distortion Product Otoacoustic Emissions and Screenings

Jupiter (2009) reports that there are many hearing screening methods and tools that have been used on the elderly. Jupiter notes that pure-tone testing (some sources recommend using 25 dB HL screening level, some recommend 30-35 dB HL, and some recommend 40 dB HL when screening elderly people), hearing handicap scales, self assessment scales, “audioscopes,” and the very straightforward and simple question, “Do you have a hearing problem now?” as well as combinations and modifications of these methods and tools, all have their proponents.

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Receiver in the Aid Compared to Receiver in the Ear

Receiver-in-the-aid (RITA) and receiver-in-the-ear (RITE) models are available in many commercially available open-canal hearing instruments. Alworth et al (2010) examined the impact of the two designs based on experience and results from 25 subjects (18 males, 7 females, mean age 67 years) with mild to moderately severe sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL). Subjects were given two separate six-week trials with each device. The authors evaluated probe microphone measures as well as other objective and subjective measures in quiet and noise, and across aided and unaided conditions.

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Listening Effort Increases with Age

Gosselin and Gagne (2011) evaluated self-reported "listening effort." Listening effort addresses "the attention and cognitive resources required to understand speech" and was based on two groups of adults listening to speech-in-noise. The younger group of adults had a mean age of 23.5  years, the older adults mean age was 69 years. A dual-task paradigm was used. The primary task involved a closed-set sentence recognition task, the secondary task involved a vibro-tactile pattern recognition task.

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Two Amplified Ears Versus One?

McArdle et al (2012) reviewed the debate and literature regarding amplifying one versus two ears. They conducted two experiments involving 20 veterans (aged 59 to 85 years with mild to moderately-severe symmetric SNHL) to explore which fitting protocol provide the best results for speech-in-noise. The authors report 80 percent of all hearing aid fittings in the United States are binaural (per Kochkin, 2010).

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Less Hearing Loss in Future Generations?

Cruickshanks and Wichmann (2012) report hearing loss (like cardiovascular disease and perhaps dementia) may be on the decline as modifiable risk factors impact the eventual outcome. That is, hearing loss increases with age, but may be decreasing over time.

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Social Lifestyle and Listening Demand

Wu and Bentler (2012) queried whether the social lifestyle of older adults places fewer demands on their hearing, as compared to younger adults. In particular, their goals were to "objectively characterize and compare the auditory lifestyles of younger and older adults" and to "examine the relationships among age, social lifestyle, and auditory lifestyle." The authors evaluated 7 male and 20 female adults (aged 40 to 88 years) with bilateral hearing impairment.

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Comparing Processing Strategies

Plyler et al (2013) evaluated 14 adult listeners (mean age 67 years) with mild to moderately severe sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) with regard to determining the effects of "ChannelFree" vs. "Multichannel Wide Dynamic Range Compression (M-WDRC)" processing strategies. Subjects used each processing strategy for five weeks and were (then) evaluated using probe microphone measures and subjective and behavioral measures in aided and unaided conditions. 

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