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Hearing Aids Help More Than Hearing in Seniors

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Ralph Jaeck says he noticed his hearing loss awhile back.

“I started wearing hearing aids in about 2010,” says Jaeck who at the time was a city manager in California. “I began to not hear every word that the council was saying. So, I needed to take care of that.”

On his second pair of hearing aids, they are barely detectable in his ear. He can take phone calls through them and listen to music while on a walk.

Hearing loss is just one of the many health related subjects he and his friends talk about at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in Reno. A new study published in the “Journal of the American Geriatrics Society” could just be the latest conversation. It shows hearing aids can prevent falls, the number one cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries in seniors.

Experts say there may be more than one reason for the results.

“When the brain doesn’t have the input it needs, a couple of things happen,” says Dr. Elizabeth Gautereaux, an audiologist. “If your brain doesn’t have that auditory input, we are seeing patients don’t have the spatial awareness in their environment. In addition, the brains are using so much cognitive power or resources to be able to understand to hear, that those resources are directed to that; as opposed to being able to navigate their environment.”

The study compared seniors who wore hearing aids as opposed to those who did not.

If the patient wore the hearing aids for up to four hours, the falling risk was cut by 50%. If the aids were worn for more than four hours the risk of falling was cut by 65%.

Dr. Gautereaux says this study alone should encourage everyone over 60 years of age to get their hearing checked. It’s estimated 50% of people over 75 years of age experience some sort of hearing loss.

About a year ago, the FDA made it easier to buy hearing aids directly from stores or online.

With all the positive impact hearing aids can have on the quality of life the downside is, Medicare still doesn’t pay for them.

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Schedule26 May 2024