p-ISSN 2083-389x   e-ISSN 2084-3127


Abstracts from the workshop on Hearing Implants for Older Adults, New York City 2014

Collective work

JHS 2014; 4(1): EA49-60

DOI: 10.17430/890872

Published: 2014-05-14

Abstract: Worldwide, the population is aging at an unprecedent­ed rate and life expectancies are higher than ever before. Diseases of aging that have been associated with severe hearing impairment – from depression and dementia to increased risk of falls – can have devastating physical, emotional and financial consequences to individuals and society as a whole. The promise of restoring hearing and giving quality of life back to older adults with age-related hearing loss (ARHL) is a challenging and multi-faceted research topic. ARHL is currently one of the major hand­icaps found in elderly people, affecting more than 30% of the population over the age of 65.

In January 2014, Med-El GmbH organized an internation­al workshop in New York City on Hearing Implants for Older Adults, which was attended by more than 120 out­standing international hearing professionals. Researchers from a range of hearing science disciplines presented data on the morphologic and physiologic bases of ARHL, ger­iatric audiology, cognition and hearing, the aging brain, electrophysiology, physical and perceptual changes of ag­ing, hearing implant surgery, and outcomes as well as bal­ance and fall risks.
An important topic discussed was hearing technologies as alternatives to help individuals suffering from severe ARHL who cannot achieve sufficient speech comprehen­sion with conventional hearing aids. A combined electric-acoustic solution may be particularly suited for persons with ARHL because the hearing loss configuration typi­cally presents with relatively good hearing in the low fre­quencies and poor hearing in the high frequencies, which qualifies candidates for electrical stimulation, either alone or in combination with acoustic amplification, while pre­serving low frequency hearing.

Further, recent clinical research has shown that there is no upper age limit to receiving hearing implants. Elder­ly cochlear implant users enjoy improved quality of life with similar performance outcomes to those achieved in younger adults, which is promising for people facing pro­gressive and severe hearing loss.

ARHL is an exciting research topic that has been embraced by scientists from around the world. It is also an impor­tant public health issue that deserves attention from health care providers, policymakers and the media.

Christoph von Ilberg

Keywords: hearing implants, older adults, geriatric audiology