Original Research

Identifying hearing impairment and the associated impact on the quality of life among the elderly residing in retirement homes in Pretoria, South Africa

Samantha M. Govender, Marguerite de Jongh
South African Journal of Communication Disorders | Vol 68, No 1 | a788 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajcd.v68i1.788 | © 2021 Samantha M. Govender, Marguerite de Jongh | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 02 July 2020 | Published: 01 March 2021

About the author(s)

Samantha M. Govender, Department of Speech-Language Pathology & Audiology, School of Health Sciences, Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University, Pretoria, South Africa
Marguerite de Jongh, Department of Speech-Language Pathology & Audiology, School of Health Sciences, Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University, Pretoria, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: Age-Related Hearing Loss (ARHL) is the most widespread sensory disorder in the elderly. Poor audiological support within retirement homes is one of the fundamental issues impacting the Quality of Life (QoL).

Objectives: The objectives of this study were to: (1) Identify the presence of hearing impairment through a hearing screening test battery in a sample of elderly participants residing in three retirement homes. (2) Determine the psychological, communication-related and social impact of the hearing impairment on the QoL in a sample of elderly participants residing in retirement homes.

Method: A prospective cross-sectional research design with quantitative methods of data analysis was used to obtain data from 70 elderly participants (mean age = 79 years, 79% were female). Ten of them used hearing aids. Hearing screening was conducted using otoscopy, tympanometry and air conduction screening (500 Hz–4 kHz). The World Health Organization Quality of Life (WHOQoL) questionnaire was adapted and utilised for the present study.

Results: Findings revealed that 77% of the sample obtained a refer result from the hearing screening protocol indicating a high presence of hearing impairment. Twenty-nine per cent (n = 16) of the participants felt depressed, worried and anxious because of their hearing loss and 20% of participants felt unaccepted by their significant others as a result of their hearing impairment. Hearing difficulties were significantly associated with a reduced QoL (p = 0.045). Eight of the 10 participants who wore hearing aids reported an overall improvement in QoL since receiving and utilising their hearing aids and 20% (n = 2) of hearing aid users reported challenges with maintaining their hearing aids.

Conclusion: The findings of this study emphasised the need for an increased role for audiological services provided by audiologists within retirement homes, thereby contributing to an improved QoL.


Keywords

hearing impairment; retirement homes; presbycusis; pure tone audiometry (Pta); distortion product otoacoustic emissions (DPOAEs); quality of life.

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