In a new paper published in JAMA Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery, a team from the University of Michigan have presented the results of the first ever study to show an association between hearing aid use and how older people use the health care system in the United States. Health economist Dr. Elham Mahmoudi and her team examined the data from 1,336 adults aged 65-85 who reported having serious hearing difficulties, 45% of whom reported being hearing aid users.
After the researchers factored out demographic and socioeconomic differences among the group, they found that hearing aid users were less likely to have visited an emergency department or stayed in hospital in the past year than non-hearing aid users. They also found that hearing aid users were more likely to have seen their GP in the past year.
Mahmoudi’s group suggested that owing to more effective communication, people with hearing problems who use hearing aids are likely to be more engaged in their own primary health care than those who don’t use them and are less likely to need acute care as a result. They noted a lower prevalence of hypertension and diabetes among this group as well, suggesting a healthier and more active lifestyle among the hearing aid users.
In addition to the findings already mentioned, this study found that hearing aid users were likely to have shorter stays in hospital than non-hearing aid users. As a clinician who works in a public hospital as well as my private practice, I often see inpatients with untreated hearing loss whose management has become difficult and protracted due to the breakdown in communication between them, their family members and hospital staff. There are several good reasons for adopting hearing aids earlier rather than later when they are needed, but this could be one of the most compelling ones.
SUBSIDISED HEARING AIDS AND SERVICES
Lindfield Audiology is an accredited provider of subsidised hearing aids and services under the Australian Government's Office of Hearing Services scheme.
You are eligible to receive FREE hearing aids and services at Lindfield Audiology if you are an Australian citizen or permanent resident over 21 and you are
a Pensioner Concession Card holder
a Department of Veterans’ Affairs Gold Card holder
a Department of Veterans’ Affairs White Card holder issued for specific conditions that include hearing loss
receiving Sickness Allowance from Centrelink
a dependent of a person in one of the above categories
a member of the Australian Defence Force
referred by the Disability Employment Services (Disability Management Services) Program or
a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) participant with hearing needs, referred by a planner from the National Disability Insurance Agency
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