Hospital Resources - Hearing Loss

“Falls are one of the leading causes of injury among seniors, and often result in avoidable Emergency Department visits, hospitalizations and admission to long-term care homes. Ontario’s annual costs for falls by seniors have been estimated at $962 million. Unmanaged hearing loss is a risk factor for falling.” - Canadian Hearing Society, 2014

Hearing loss is a partial or complete inability to hear; the onset occurs either suddenly or as a gradual decline in how well a person can hear. (4)

Why is it important?

  • Hearing loss is one of the fastest growing and prevalent chronic conditions affecting Canadians over the age of 65; more than 30% of these individuals experience some degree of hearing loss (5)
  • Untreated hearing loss can negatively impact one’s quality of life; decreased functional health, and reduced participation in social activities are symptoms of a person’s inability to cope with hearing loss (3)
  • Older adults with unmanaged hearing loss are at increased risk of cognitive decline, developing dementia, delirium and falling (2)
  • 90% of those with hearing loss can improve communication with proper assistive devices, environmental redesign,or counseling (2)

Common Causes

  • The two most common types of hearing loss include age-related (presbycusis) and noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) (7)
  • Other causes include: infection, heart conditions, stroke, head injuries, tumours and certain medications (6)

Key Considerations

  • Conduct the Whisper Test to screen for hearing loss.  (whisper test & how to)
  • Health professionals: should consider referring patients to an audiologist and hearing centres for consideration of hearing aides, cochlear implants, assistive listening devices or to learn lip reading
  • Patients may benefit from other assistive devices such as volume control telephones, computers to communicate, closed-captioned TV or decoder, amplifiers, and visual or vibrating alarms (1)
  • If the patient has a hearing aid ensure it is in working order and ask patient to use their appliance

References

1.  Canadian Academy of Audiology. (2014). Retrieved February 2014 from:
     https://canadianaudiology.ca/for-the-public/hearing-aids-and-implants

2.  Canadian Hearing Society. (2013). Facts and Figures. Retrieved February 2014 from:
     http://www.chs.ca/facts-and-figures

3.  National Academy on an Aging Society. (1999). Hearing Loss. Retrieved February 2014 from:
     http://www.agingsociety.org/agingsociety/pdf/hearing.pdf

4.  National Institutes of Health. (2013). Hearing Loss and Older Adults. Retrieved February 2014 from:  
     http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/hearing/pages/older.aspx

5.  Public Health Agency of Canada. (2006). Hearing Loss Info-Sheet for Seniors. Retrieved February 2014 from:
     http://seniorspolicylens.ca/Root/Materials/Adobe%20Acrobat%20Materials/Hearing_Loss_Info-Sheet.pdf

6. The Hearing Foundation of Canada. (2010). Causes of Hearing Loss.
    http://www.hearingfoundation.ca/causes-of-hearing-loss/

7.  The Hearing Foundation of Canada. (2010). Statistics. Retrieved February 2014 from:
    http://www.hearingfoundation.ca/statistics/