Challenges for the Oldest Older Adults
Dubno (2015) summarized three presentations from the special session at the 2014 Hearing Across the Lifespan (HEAL) conference (June 2014) in Como, Italy. Dubno reports that the oldest older adults refers to those 85 years and older. She notes this group is the fastest growing segment of the population and they have complex needs including co-morbidities that impact communication, cognition, use of technology, dexterity, frailty, physical disabilities, and more. Dubno reports that the oldest older adults are less likely to be employed, are community dwellers, and often have their communication partners as caregivers—often leading to loneliness, social isolation, lower self-rated health, and a lower quality of life.
Barbara Weinstein focused on auditory changes and the increased need to maintain communication ability, to use hearing aid amplification, and to attend to person-centered care. Marie Oberg spoke of services beyond the audiology clinic, such as primary care and the individual’s capacity for health behavior change and “development of innovative interventions for improved communication skills.” Kathy Pichora-Fuller focused her presentation on the dual loss of hearing and cognition in the oldest old.
Dubno reports that, “taken together, it is clear…the auditory, cognitive, social, emotional, and lifestyle factors that affect hearing health of the oldest older adult population are highly integrated and cannot be managed in isolation….”
For More Information, References, and Recommendations
Dubno JR. (2015) Research Forum on Challenges in Hearing Health Care for the Oldest Older Adults. American Journal of Audiology 24(6):98-99.