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Managing hearing loss in seniors

April 1, 2014

Hearing loss is one of the most common health detriments affecting older adults. There are many ways to maintain a healthy lifestyle for seniors, but there are few avenues by which they can prevent loss of hearing. While older adults many not be able to stop this from happening, they can learn from several new advancements regarding this sensory deprivation.

Hearing loss may impact seniors' personalities
Socialization is incredibly important for the mental health of seniors, but it may be especially crucial for those who suffer from impaired hearing. A recent University of Gothenburg study found that older adults with this condition may be less outgoing than their peers. Researchers followed a group of more than 400 people between the ages of 80 and 98 years old, and found that personality was more likely to change in seniors who were hard of hearing. Anne Ingeborg Berg, a researcher and psychologist at the University of Gothenburg, explained in a press release the effects these seniors could expect.

"To our knowledge, this is the first time a link between hearing and personality changes has been established in longitudinal studies," Berg said. "Surprisingly, we did not find that declining overall health and functional capacity make people less outgoing. But hearing loss directly affects the quality of social situations."

While seniors who were hard of hearing were reported to be less outgoing, the researchers discovered that those who implemented the assistance of hearing aids did not show the same correlation. 

FDA announces invention of new cochlear implant
Technology has advanced rapidly over the past few years, allowing for several new devices to provide much needed cochlear assistance to older adults. Some smartphones have created apps or supplemental devices to connect to them, but other pieces of technology have been instrumental in bolstering hearing capabilities through direct implantation. Recently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first cochlear implant that specifically helps individuals who can hear low-frequencies, but have difficulty processing high-frequency noises.

The Nucleus Hybrid L24 Cochlear Implant System may be beneficial for those who have sensorineural hearing loss, which can be brought about by a number of factors including genetics, illness or age. Christy Foreman, the director of the Office of Device Evaluation at the FDA, explained in a press release that the new implant may help individuals better understand spoken word or hear high-pitched noises, such as sirens or telephones.