Hearing Care Intervention for Persons with Dementia: A Pilot Study

Sara K. Mamo, Olivia Nirmalasari, Carrie Nieman, Matthew McNabney, Allison Simpson, Esther Oh, Frank Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Objective Hearing loss is a commonly unmet need among adults with dementia that may exacerbate common dementia-related behavioral symptoms. Accessing traditional audiology services for hearing loss is a challenge because of high cost and time commitment. To improve accessibility and affordability of hearing treatment for persons with dementia, there is a need for unique service delivery models. The purpose of this study is to test a novel hearing intervention for persons with dementia and family caregivers delivered in outpatient settings. Methods The Memory-HEARS pilot study delivered a 2-hour in-person intervention in an outpatient setting. A trained interventionist provided hearing screening, communication strategies, and provision of and instruction using a simple over-the-counter amplification device. Caregivers (N = 20) responded to questionnaires related to depression, neuropsychiatric symptoms, and caregiver burden at baseline and 1-month postintervention. Results Overall, caregivers believed the intervention was beneficial, and most participants with dementia wore the amplification device daily. For the depression and neuropsychiatric outcome measures, participants with high symptom burden at baseline showed improvement at 1-month postintervention. The intervention had no effect on caregiver burden. Qualitative responses from caregivers described improved engagement for their loved ones, such as laughing more, telling more stories, asking more questions, and having more patience. Conclusion The Memory-HEARS intervention is a low-cost, low-risk, nonpharmacologic approach to addressing hearing loss and behavioral symptoms in patients with dementia. Improved communication has the potential to reduce symptom burden and improve quality of life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)91-101
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Volume25
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

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Keywords

  • Age-related hearing loss
  • Amplification
  • Communication
  • dementia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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