Date of Award
Master of Arts In Speech-language Pathology And Audiology
Myrita Wilhite, Ph.D., AuD, CCC-A
Lori Lundeen Smith, MS, CCC-SLP, MT-BC
The prevalence of hearing loss due to old age is rapidly growing amongst the elderly population impacting over 450 million people worldwide making it the third most chronic disease (Lohler et al., 2019). While highly prevalent, hearing loss still remains one of the least studied factors, yet it has one of the greatest impacts on public health as 67% of adults age 70 and up have a hearing loss that impedes daily communication (Lin & Albert, 2014). Research has found a connection between hearing loss and cognitive deficits. People with hearing loss experience cognitive decline 30% to 40% faster than same-aged normal hearing adults (Lin et al., 2013). When hearing loss is properly diagnosed and treated, it can aid in the preservation of cognition and residual hearing and help to improve quality of life in the elderly population. The purpose of this small-scale study was to examine the professional practices and attitudes of 10 Hearing Instrument Specialists and 13 audiologists as it relates to the assessment of hearing in the elderly population. This study also examined whether or not there was a difference in the manner in which hearing professionals allow for challenges in behavioral testing of elderly clients, and to determine whether or not additional audiological assessment is sought for geriatric patients. The findings revealed no statistical difference between audiologists and HIS as it relates to hearing assessment of elderly people. Both hearing professionals rely on behavioral audiometry and are not likely to recommend elderly adults for additional audiological testing, even when the iv behavioral results are less than reliable. There are important clinical implications from these findings to gather more reliable data to improve hearing aid fittings so that elderly adults can improve their overall quality of life.
Witt, Emilee A., "Is Hearing Loss Over-diagnosed Due To Impaired Cognition In Elderly Patients?" (2021). ETD Archive. 1286.