Visits to the emergency room could be reduced or avoided by seniors using a hearing aid, a recent study* suggests.
Reviews of 1,300 ER patients' data ages 65 to 85 with severe hearing loss show that only 45% used hearing aids. Those who did use a hearing aid were less likely to have gone to an emergency room or to have spent time in the hospital within the past year.
While only a 2% difference, it's a large enough contrast to be significant, according to the University of Michigan researchers. Those with hearing aids who had been hospitalized, the study found, also spent an average of half a day less in the hospital than those without hearing aids.
Hearing loss is one of the most common conditions among Americans over 65. While the association between hearing aid use and lower risk of costly ER visits and hospitalization doesn't prove cause and effect, the implications are clear and suggest that hearing aids should be made more affordable to seniors. Currently Medicare does not cover the cost of hearing aids, and supplemental insurances may only partially cover the costly devices.
*The study was published April 26, 2018 in the journal JAMA Otolaryngology - Head & Neck Surgery.