Older persons often experience limitations to their hearing, which can frustrate and strain relationships with loved ones and caretakers, reduce the ability to interact socially, limit cognitive functioning and emotional wellbeing, and ultimately impact general quality of life.
For the elderly or ill patient, who may be confined to bed rest, there is a need to optimize communication opportunities with medical or support personnel, as well as family members. These moments of communication often are very important. Fortunately, most hearing losses can be treated with hearing aids. The goal of amplification in hearing aids is to boost all speech sounds so the hearing impaired person can hear clearly. While hearing losses vary from one person to the next, hearing aid technology allows for a very precise adjustment of the sound delivered to the listener’s ear, so that speech is easy to understand and also comfortable.
Tuning in to a radio, or listening to music can be stimulating, soothing, and can sometimes help with recovery and healing. Music can increase your overall sense of well-being, improve mood and focus and relieve stress. In recent years there have been a number of studies showing the benefits of listening to music, and also learning music (e.g., Nat Rev Neurosci 2010;11:599).
For all of the reasons mentioned above, it seems a worthwhile goal to try to make music available to older patients. So, how can we optimize music listening for the client in a hospital room, or in a room shared with others?
The technology today allows us to deliver sound from a radio, personal music player, or even a television, directly to the patient’s ears through hearing aids or earphones. The volume of the signal can be adjusted using a small remote control. What this means is that the listener can enjoy an audio signal of choice wirelessly, and without interrupting others in the same room. Many of these systems are available as a package with the purchase of hearing aids from an Audiologist. Bluetooth or infrared headsets also are offered at stereo or electronic specialty shops.
This article is submitted by Judy Keith, MSc, Aud(C), Reg. CASLPO. Judy is Owner and Operator of Chemong Audiology and Hearing Centre in Bridgenorth, ON and Hearing Unlimited in Peterborough ON. She has been providing audiology services in the Peterborough area for more than twenty years.