Why should I consult an audiologist

gms | German Medical Science

The aim of the presented study was to obtain as comprehensive a picture as possible of the subjective hearing status, the supply situation and the effects of hearing impairment in the 60+ generation, as well as to investigate possible moderter effects (through the use of hearing aids or communication strategies).

The focus of interest is deliberately not the objective hearing ability but the subjective assessment, since the subjective evaluation for the coping processes and the manifestation of possible effects on the quality of life is more decisive than the objective hearing ability.

A written questionnaire survey was carried out with a proportionally stratified randomized sample (N = 1625). The random sample was drawn from the population (aged 60 and over) of the city of Munich, using age and gender as stratification characteristics and there were no other inclusion or exclusion criteria.

Data was collected on the following areas: subjective hearing ability (including Oldenburg inventory), ENT consultations (including diagnosis of hearing loss), supply and use of hearing aids, tinnitus (mini-TF) and / or sensitivity to noise, evasive and invasive use Communication strategies, recording of the possible effects of hearing loss on social contacts and well-being (Gothenburg profile) as well as on the general quality of life (WHOQoL-5). In addition, the test persons were asked to send in any audiograms they had and other socio-demographic parameters were collected. Finally, additional information could be given in a free field.

A key result is that there is a clear need for action in the entire care process - from hurdles to consulting a doctor to diagnostic problems and not prescribing hearing aids to not using existing hearing aids. In addition, many of the respondents are affected by tinnitus and / or sensitivity to noise, although only a minority feels impaired in everyday life as a result.

It has also been shown that subjective hearing has a significant impact on the well-being of older people. No moderating effects of hearing aid use and only small moderating effects of communication behavior could be demonstrated. This indicates that the effects of hearing impairment on quality of life are less likely to be influenced by hearing aid use than by communication behavior.

In summary, the results of this study suggest that subjective hearing ability is decisive for the quality of life and that the care process for this age group could be improved at various levels. The role of the subjective assessment should be given due consideration and, in addition to technical support, holistic, audiotherapeutic, target group-specific offers taking into account the gerontological concepts of successful aging are required.