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J Am Geriatr Soc. 1995 Aug;43(8):928-35.

Hearing impairment in older adults: new concepts.

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Department of Otorhinolaryngology and Communicative Sciences, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, USA.



To review present information about the epidemiology, etiologies, pathogenesis, evaluation, and quality of life aspects of hearing loss and to present an approach to rehabilitation for hearing loss in older adults.


A survey of recent findings on the problem of hearing loss in older adults, efficacy of intervention with amplification, and new developments in intervention strategies.


The complex nature of hearing problems in older adults involves changes in the auditory periphery as well as in the central mechanisms for processing sound input. These changes affect the social and emotional impact of the hearing disorder. The importance of understanding the many implications of hearing loss on quality of life is emphasized. Both older adults and immediate family members need information and advice about the consequences of age-related hearing loss. The physician has a key role in helping them to overcome negative attitudes toward a hearing handicap. For most older persons, hearing aids alleviate many of the handicaps of hearing impairment. For some older persons who do not benefit adequately from conventional hearing aids, assistive listening devices may be helpful. Many old persons and their relatives are reluctant to confront the reality of hearing handicap and try to hide the fact that they need sound amplification. One important future direction is to foster acceptance of hearing loss and to support the more open use of amplification systems.

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