Most older adults have age-related hearing loss, and fewer than 20 percent of these individuals use hearing aids. Increasingly, as older adults require more care and seek more social engagement, many of them are finding senior communities an appropriate living arrangement; however, untreated hearing loss compromises social participation. It is known that social participation is important to healthy aging. Senior living communities provide an excellent place to can determine the best way to help aging adults with their hearing challenges, as hearing help can be provided where the patient lives. The question is, what type of help will be the best for a group of people with age-related hearing loss? A common model of hearing care in senior living facilities is an audiologist visiting the facility once per month. This arrangement provides care to those people who sign up for an appointment. Another model of care includes the audiologist but adds trained personnel who can provide ongoing hearing support throughout the month. Such personnel can help with hearing aids, batteries, phone amplifiers, and TV devices or can even provide simple, inexpensive amplifiers for patients to use. These personnel can also make sure everyone can hear during group activities or a group movie.
This study will compare these two models of care in eight assisted living facilities with 520 total residents. We want to find out if people are more satisfied with their social participation when more hearing support is available throughout the month. We also want to know if people with hearing loss find their quality of life improves when they have access to hearing help more frequently. In addition, we want to determine if the staff in these facilities and the families of residents will benefit from more hearing help. All of the facilities will be visited once per month by an audiologist. Over a three-year period, we will add the extra support to two facilities at a time until all eight have the additional support. During this time, we will ask residents to answer questionnaires about their satisfaction with their social participation and their hearing. These data will help us compare the different types of treatment. The results of the study will help us make recommendations about which type of hearing care might be most helpful in senior living communities.
*All proposed projects, including requested budgets and project periods, are approved subject to a programmatic and budget review by PCORI staff and the negotiation of a formal award contract.