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Hearing Aids Underused by the 'Older Old'

Rate of hearing loss during the 10th decade of life significantly up compared with 9th decade

hearing aid

THURSDAY, Sept. 15, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Although the rate of hearing loss in patients goes up significantly during the 10th decade of life, hearing aids remain underused in this population, according to research published online Sept. 15 in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery.

Anil Lalwani, M.D., of the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City, and colleagues compared rates of hearing loss among 647 adults between 80 and 106 years old. All of the participants had undergone hearing evaluations at an academic medical center. They were divided into four groups: those aged 80 to 84, those 85 to 89, those 90 to 94 and those aged 95 and older.

Hearing loss was progressive at older ages, and nearly universal among the study sample. The team found that hearing was rapidly lost in patients over 80 years, with the rate of hearing loss accelerating during the 10th decade. Only 59 percent of the study participants used a hearing aid.

"There is a significant increase in the rate of hearing loss in patients during the 10th decade of life compared with the 9th decade that represents a fundamental change in the mechanistic process of presbycusis," the authors write. "Despite the potential benefit of hearing aids, they remain underused in the older old. Use may be improved by changing the method of hearing rehabilitation counseling from a patient-initiated model to a chronic disease example."

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