Friday, June 8, 2012

Out of the five senses, hearing may be the most important to humans, right behind sight.  Just like sight, hearing can degenerate with time and wear to its applicable organs.  Hearing loss, despite the elementary progress being made in the field of surgery, is irreversible.  To partially remedy the situation, hearing aid devices have been developed since the 1800’s.  Current models can perform outrageous functions such as iPod and Bluetooth connectivity, cosmetic advantages such as a large choice of colors, crystal-clear sound, and easy in-home repair.  Hearing aids, therefore, aid with human perception.
Most hearing aid customers are 65+ with normal, degenerative hearing loss.  In a recent study, two classes of seniors grouped by gender were assessed for cognitive functioning before and after a three-month period of wearing hear aids for the first time.  They were evaluated on two scales: the Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS) and the mini mental state examination test (MMSE).  After the trial period and reassessment, all patients showed improvement on cognitive ability including social communication and information exchange and regurgitation.  Hearing aids improved the functioning and perception of these seniors, and therefore improved their overall quality of life.
I find specific interest in this field because my dad works as an audiologist, and I worked at his office as a summer intern throughout high school.  My dad has also worked in many nursing homes, which I have always visited and gotten to know the residents since I have been little.  Additionally, I am close to all four of my grandparents, all of them with some degree of hearing loss.  In all these instances, I have seen hearing aids improve the quality of life for seniors, mainly due to an improvement in their cognitive and sensory functioning.
Baran, Acar.  (2011).  Effects of hearing aids on cognitive functions and depressive signs in elderly             people.  Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics , 52(3), pp.250-252.

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