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Mature Focus: News and Notes

hearing aid

A University of Missouri researcher seems to have found a way to increase the likelihood of successfully adjusting to a hearing aid.

Adjusting to hearing aids

A researcher at the University of Missouri-Columbia (MU) has found a rather simple way to improve older adults’ satisfaction with hearing aids.

Kari Lane at MU’s Sinclair School of Nursing designed a 30-day intervention for a group of older people, all of whom were dissatisfied with their hearing aids.

“Hearing aids are not an easy fix to hearing loss,” Lane said. “Unlike glasses, which provide instant results, it takes more time for the brains of hearing aid users to fully adjust to the aids and new sounds they could not hear before.”

For the intervention, Lane had participants gradually increase the amount of time they wore hearing aids and gradually increase their exposure to complex sounds, such as household appliance noises and the sounds of a crowded place. At the end of the intervention, 60 percent of the participants reported that they were happy with their hearing aids, and more than half were able to increase their hearing aid use from zero hours to four hours a day.

According to Lane, audiologists often instruct patients to wear their hearing aids all day as soon as they get them, but not all people are able to do that comfortably.


Falling up?

The incidence of falls among older adults is greater than in recent years, a research paper recently published in JAMA Internal Medicine suggests.

A study from the University of Michigan Medical School looked at adults’ self-reported fall rates, using data from the Health and Retirement Study. Results of that research showed that among all adults aged 65 and older, falls within a two-year time frame increased from about 28 percent in 1998 to more than 36 percent in 2010.

Previous studies have indicated that about one-third of older adults experience a fall each year, and researchers were surprised at the latest findings.

“Contrary to our hypothesis, we observed an increase in fall prevalence among older adults that exceeds what would be expected owing to the increasing age of the population,” the study authors wrote.

Researchers noted that programs designed to increase older adults’ awareness of balance and fall risks may have improved the reporting of falls; however, if that is not the case, more research is needed to identify possible causes for the latest statistics. Possibilities include an increase in fall risk factors, such as cardiovascular and psychiatric medications, and an increase in behaviors that make people more prone to falling, researchers said.

Falling is the most frequent cause of injury to the elderly population in the U.S.


Protecting nursing home residents

Each year, thousands of nursing home resident deaths are associated with influenza, but this month’s issue of the American Journal of Infection Control reports that a large percentage of nursing home staff members fail to receive the influenza vaccine.

Researchers at Emory University surveyed nearly 2,000 nursing home employees at 37 nursing homes in Florida, Georgia and Wisconsin and found that during the 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 flu seasons, only 54 percent of them obtained a flu vaccine.

The researchers learned also that inaccurate beliefs about the flu vaccine affected nursing home employee vaccination rates. Those who believed in the vaccine’s effectiveness were 28 percent more likely to be vaccinated, and those who correctly believed the vaccine does not cause influenza were 12 percent more likely to get the vaccine.

The Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology supports mandatory influenza vaccination as a condition of employment for health care workers. It should be noted that some nursing homes require staff members to receive an annual flu vaccine.


On the calendar

“Questions about Stroke Awareness?” is from noon-1 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 17 at Progress West Hospital, 2 Progress Point Parkway in O’Fallon. Attendees receive expert information from Stroke Coordinator Linda Canoy, R.N., B.S.N., while enjoying lunch with fellow participants. The fee is $5 and includes lunch. Registration is required. Call 928-9355, or visit bjcstcharlescounty.org.

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