Elderly Hearing Loss: A Silent Epidemic Leads To Social Isolation
Elderly hearing loss is a silent epidemic that also leads to social isolation. Seniors avoid activities, drop out of life-long interests, and isolate away from friends. All because they simply can’t hear well enough in group situations.
Elderly: Can The Deaf Hear You?
One method to keep hard of hearing seniors engaged is a new device called Eversound headphones. Matthew Reiners, is the vice president at Eversound. He and partner Jake Reish looked for a solution as both their grandmothers struggled with the isolation that accompanies hearing loss. They founded Eversound in 2015 to solve the barrier of hearing impairments in elderly group settings.
More effective than amplifiers, the headsets bring any event or presentation right to the user’s personal space. The wireless headphones and wallet-sized, battery-powered transmitter work with most audio sources and situations, including television, worship services, fitness class, movie night, guest speaker presentations, and field trips.
The senior-friendly design starts with the headphones themselves: No tiny buttons or complicated technology. No dangling wires. The padded, antimicrobial earphones fit comfortably over hearing aids and eyeglasses. The headset is secure enough to wear during fitness class but gentle enough to wear for an hour-long guest lecture.
The results of a six-month study saw a 28 percent increase in resident engagement and a 17 percent drop in residents leaving or falling asleep during programs. There was a 20 percent increase in program attendance, as well as reduced agitation and increased appetite among those with dementia after just a 30-day trial.
Some of the most dramatic results have involved residents whose hearing loss had caused them to lose interest in all activities and conversations, isolating themselves so deeply that some were misdiagnosed with dementia.
Elderly: Portable Head Sets
Eversound are working on more ways to apply the technology. Research is on-going to make the phone portable so that you can take the transmitter with you. The elderly can use a mic or plug it into a smartphone. This allows them to get out and go anywhere.