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Dan Med Bull. 1986 Nov;33 Suppl 3:1-22.

Hearing problems and the elderly.


Hearing problems have a profound influence on the lives of the elderly. The ability to communicate is frequently a deciding factor in determining a person's autonomy, independence, and overall well-being and happiness. In the works of Ralph Naunton, in the introduction to the report, "Society is ill-informed about the importance of speech communication and about the devastating effects of communication difficulties, and it is ill-informed about the cost effectiveness of providing communication aids to the elderly and about the cost to society and to the individual of not providing them." This report was written for health and social workers, politicians, planners, and others who care for the elderly. The purpose of the report is to provide insight into some of the most important questions concerning hearing problems of the elderly, to show what can be expected from the rehabilitative audiological services, and to make a case for more attention to the hearing problems of elderly persons. The report is organized around these 13 topics: Which criteria should be used in defining the population of elderly persons with hearing problems? How should hearing loss be described by different professions? Evaluation of present services; Do hearing thresholds differ among those having or applying for a hearing aid and those who do not have a hearing aid? Is early fitting of a hearing aid important for a positive result of hearing aid treatment? Can hearing loss provoke or promote senility? Are hearing and quality of life related factors in old age? Crises in the lives of the elderly provoked by hearing problems; Hearing problems and social class; Is audiovisual perception in the elderly a function of age? Qualitative aspects of hearing problems and influence of tinnitus on hearing; Services which should be available today for the elderly person with a hearing problem; How can we most effectively communicate the available knowledge to the elderly, to the relevant authorities, and to any other group which can be active in relieving hearing problems in the elderly? The report includes a reference list on each of the topics discussed as well as an extensive list of reading that should be useful for further study.

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