Hearing loss patients at higher risk of hospital readmission

Hearing loss patients at higher risk of hospital readmission
Carli Van Harken

No one wants to spend time in the hospital, but sometimes it is just inevitable, no matter how well we take care of ourselves. In best-case scenarios, most of us would like to be hospitalized for as brief as possible and hopefully not return anytime soon. 

If we understand behaviors and actions that could keep us healthy and out of hospitals, most of us would take advantage of this information. Now, a recent study has discovered evidence suggesting more frequent re-admittance to hospitals for those who live with hearing loss, often only a month after the first visit.

More Frequent Hospital Stays with Hearing Loss

As we age, the likelihood of spending time in hospitals becomes more likely. Another thing that becomes more common with age is hearing loss. The natural breakdown of hearing is one of the greatest causes of hearing loss affecting 1 in 3 seniors over 65 years old and 1 in 2 of seniors over 75. 

Hospitals can often be noisy chaotic environments, with a lot of commotion, unexpected emergencies and multiple conversations happening at once. Your doctor and nurses will have important information to share with you to help you deal with your condition and help you recover. 

If you have hearing loss it can be hard to hear your doctor’s important instructions regarding your health. In fact researchers at New York University compiled data from a national survey finding that patients with hearing loss had a 32% higher chance of returning to the hospital due to communication issues with their medical practitioners.

Hospital Discharge Study

An extensive study collected data from 4,436 patients, 65 years or more who were hospitalized at least once between 2010 and 2013. The study found that approximately 12 percent of participants reported hearing difficulties, which created communication issues with their doctors and medical service providers. 

While these numbers are alarming it is also important to take into account other factors such as socioeconomic status and the ability to have the help of an aid or presence of family members who can help communicate and compile important health information for senior patients with hearing loss. 

Despite these factors, people who reported hearing issues were readmitted sooner and more often than those with healthy hearing across the board. The research also indicated that those who had hearing issues also tended to suffer from more health issues in general in comparison to seniors who had the ability to hear clearly.

Difficulties in Recovery

Patients with hearing loss expressed concern and confusion about medications prescribed, actions pertaining to their recovery and how to self care after leaving the hospital. Hearing loss can be exhausting for seniors whose brains must work overtime to piece together conversation with limited audio information. 

Research has found that many of these patients are less likely to participate in social activities, and this lack of social interaction and isolation can lead to a lack of interest in their own recovery. Not only does hearing loss put seniors at a higher risk for re-admittance to hospitals but it also increases the risk of accidents, injuries, and falls due to a diminished sense of spatial relations and surroundings. 

Tips for Communicating in the Hospital

If you are dealing with hearing loss, there are a few things you can do to make communication more effective. Most importantly, let your doctors and nurses know that you have hearing loss so they can make sure they can better accommodate you. 

Insist on having someone take notes or have medical instructions printed. In addition, ask your nurse to make sure the room is as quiet as possible when communicating important information about your health to make it easier to hear. 

How to stay out of the hospital while living with hearing loss

While age related hearing loss is almost always irreversible it is rather treatable using hearing aids. Hearing aids electronically amplify the sounds that you may be struggling to comprehend and send them directly to your ears. Studies have found that when older adults wear their aids, there is less of a chance of hospitalization or visits to the emergency room. 

Hearing aids can help seniors avoid communication problems and give them a greater sense of independence, allowing more awareness of the world around them. Using hearing aids can help seniors avoid many accidents in the first place. If you are living with hearing loss, make an appointment to have your hearing tested so you can start taking control of your hearing health today!