According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, nearly 25 percent of those aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent of those who are 75 and older have disabling hearing loss.1 A problem as prevalent to senior living communities as this deserves a comprehensive and proactive approach. As hearing loss is considered by society as a “normal” part of the human aging process, it is easy to lose sight of opportunities to mitigate its harmful effects. Hearing loss’s varied effects on different populations require thoughtful and purposeful engagement to see results. While hearing loss has long been understood as an area of concern for the senior living industry, this concern has not necessarily translated to approaches that reflect the gravity of the issue. In the following post, we will explore the specific ways untreated hearing loss affects senior living communities, and offer new paths to perceive and address the issue.
One of the key ways in which hearing loss affects senior living communities is through staff satisfaction. Staff satisfaction is key not only to the financial viability of a senior living community but also to the level of care that it is able to provide.
When residents are suffering from untreated hearing loss, they may ask staff to repeat themselves frequently. Over time, these residents may grow increasingly frustrated by their inability to communicate, which may express itself through frustration and anger towards staff. In senior living environments, hearing loss may be mistaken as confusion, unresponsiveness, and uncooperativeness- all of which require increased patience on behalf of staff. In turn, senior living community staff need lots of training on the various manifestations of hearing loss, and how to respond to them. In addition to training, staff need support and leadership that actively works to address the effects of hearing loss in the community.
In senior living communities, dissatisfied staff leads to increased turnover, which in turn leads to more time and money spent on training rather than providing quality care. Moreover, high staff retention allows for more meaningful relationships between staff and residents to flourish, which is a win for both the community and the individual residents.
Untreated hearing loss can further be understood as a community problem through the ways in which it affects residents’ health. According to an analysis conducted by the World Health Organization, hearing loss is now the fourth greatest contributor to years lost to disability globally. Studies indicate that hearing loss in older adults can contribute to both loneliness and social isolation, which in turn can lead to higher risks for a myriad of health concerns such as heart disease, high blood pressure, depression, and cognitive decline.
According to a study published by the National Institute of Health, more than 70% of long-stay nursing home residents have some cognitive impairment; half are moderately to severely impaired.1 Not only can hearing loss exacerbate cognitive decline, but cognitive impairment can also further damage a resident’s hearing capacity as a decreased cognitive reserve lessens one’s ability to accommodate degraded speech.
Senior living communities have an obligation to care for resident’s emotional well-being as well as their physical health. Seniors are most likely spending the remainder of their lifetimes in the care of these communities. Therefore, by recognizing and accommodating this common disability, senior living communities have the power to greatly impact residents’ quality of life.
It should go without saying that a combination of low staff and resident satisfaction resulting from unaddressed hearing loss can also be detrimental to your community’s bottom line. As aforementioned, low staff satisfaction leads to increased staff turnover, which in turn leads to more time and money spent on hiring training new staff. Additionally, resident health and satisfaction directly affect your community’s financial strength through recommendations and reviews.
Reasons why residents may delay in getting hearing aids
If hearing loss is so prevalent in senior living communities and leads to so many problems, why don’t residents just all get hearing aids? Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. There are many reasons why seniors may refrain from purchasing hearing aids including social stigma, poor affordability, and limited accessibility. As a result, fewer than 33% of those over the age of 70 years old who could benefit from using a hearing aid have actually used one.2
Hearing aids are very expensive and Medicare doesn’t cover hearing exams, hearing aids, or exams for fitting hearing aids. On average, a set of hearing aids may cost anywhere from $1,000-$5,000. Even if a resident can afford hearing aids, they don’t always function as a seamless fix. Many hearing aid users suffer from feedback, poor fit, and other issues which necessitate many follow-up doctors appointments- all of which can lead to even more frustration.
How Eversound Helps
As we can see, there is a multitude of reasons why seniors may refrain from treating their hearing loss through hearing aids. Consequently, senior living communities must be proactive in implementing measures to ease the burden of this problem for both their staff and residents.
That’s where Eversound comes in. Eversound’s hearing solution is a simple and effective way to mitigate the harmful effects of untreated hearing loss in your community. Used individually, Eversound allows seniors suffering from hearing loss to enjoy their favorite entertainment, with or without the assistance of a hearing aid. In social situations, Eversounds levels the playing field with personalized volume adjustments, so every resident has the opportunity to let themselves fully shine. With Eversound, residents can regain their confidence to interact with peers and staff, easing the burden of loneliness and social isolation.