Optimizing Steps May Increase Successful Hearing Aid Use—and Improve Quality of Life—for Individuals with Dementia

October 27, 2022

October 27, 2022
Contact: Ellen Mullally

Hearing impairment affects up to 90% of older adults living with dementia, and the negative consequences of combined hearing loss and cognitive impairment include increased social isolation and reduced quality of life. A study in the October issue of JAMDA suggested that hearing aid interventions should include a multi-faceted approach that optimizes the ability of people with dementia to handle and use hearing aids, addresses their motivation to hear better, and ensures they have adequate support and encouragement to use these devices.

In Systematic Review of Factors Associated with Hearing Aid Use in People Living in the Community with Dementia and Age-Related Hearing Loss, the authors conducted a systematic literature review and found that hearing aid use for people living in the community with dementia and hearing loss was influenced by five factors: Degree of hearing aid handling proficiency, positive experiential consequents, degree of hearing aid comfort or fit, person-environment interactions, and social reinforcement.

These considerations are important, the authors indicated, because hearing aid use is generally more challenging for people with dementia. For instance, they said, “Awareness of hearing loss is an important correlate of hearing aid use, yet loss of self-awareness commonly occurs in dementia. Furthermore, people living with dementia may have increased difficulties in using hearing aids due to dementia-related factors such as reduced cognition, visuospatial and executive function abilities, and increased apathy.” These factors may negatively impact a person’s ability to use and maintain hearing aids and get past initial discomfort and/or inconvenience.

The authors concluded that “there was some evidence in our findings that people with dementia may benefit from learning strategies to optimize their hearing aid handling skills, such as those offered by cognitive rehabilitation.” They also stressed that social support seems to play a critical role in supporting hearing use for individuals with dementia.

This article was conducted by researchers at the Division of Psychology and Mental Health, School of Health Sciences, University of Manchester, Manchester Academic Health Science Centre, UK; Department of Rehabilitation and Sports Science, Institute of Health, University of Cumbria, UK; Manchester Centre for Audiology and Deafness, School of Health Sciences, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK; School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences, University of Queensland, Australia; Global Brain Health Institute, School of Medicine, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland; Manchester Centre for Health Psychology, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK; Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, Manchester Academic Health Science Centre, Manchester, UK; NIHR Greater Manchester Patient Safety Translational Research Centre, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK; and NIHR Manchester Biomedical Research Centre, Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Manchester Academic Health Science Centre, Manchester, UK.

Get more information on the findings above and more details about the study. To contact the researchers or JAMDA editors for an interview, please email emullally@paltc.org.





JAMDA is the official journal of AMDA – The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine. JAMDA publishes peer-reviewed articles including original studies, reviews, clinical experience articles, case reports, and more, on all topics more important to post-acute and long-term care medicine. Visit www.jamda.com for more information.

About AMDA – The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine
AMDA – The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine is the only medical specialty society representing the community of over 50,000 medical directors, physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and other practitioners working in the various post-acute and long-term care (PALTC) settings. Dedicated to defining and improving quality, we advance our mission through timely professional development, evidence-based clinical guidance, and tireless advocacy on behalf of members, patients, families, and staff. Visit www.paltc.org for more information.