Page 12 - Winter Issue 2018
P. 12

Hearing and Aging Effects
on Speech Understanding:
Challenges and Solutions
Samii-a Anderson Development of eflective, evidence-based solutions to overcoming
Address: communication barriers imposed by hearing loss is critical in our rapidly
Department of Hearing and agmgpopulatwm
Speech Sciences
University 0fMa;y1and Why Does Grandma Seem So Withdrawn Lately?
72 51 preinken Drive The scene is your annual Thanksgiving dinner. Your grandmother has been smil-
couege park, Maryland 20742 ing throughout the dinner, but you can tell that she is not following the conversa-
USA tion. She often interjects the conversation with an off-topic comment, and when
E ,1. asked a question, she may respond with an answer that does not relate to the con-
mm ' versation. When someone asks, “Have you heard from Faith recently?” she might , , “ _ , ,, _
respond irritably, Yes, I washed my face this morning. She is 85 years old, and you
are concerned she may be losing cognitive function.
Sandra G01-don-sa_1an1; But is it her cognitive status, her hearing ability, or a combination of the two that
Address. prevents her from fully engaging in the conversation? The answers to these ques-
_ . tions can be difficult to sort out. A hearing loss of just a mild-to-moderate degree
Department of Hearing and _ _ _ , _ _ _
S each Sciences can have a significant impact on ones ability to understand speech in background
, _P noise, even if communication in quiet, one—to-one settings remains unimpaired
University of Maryland (D b t al 1984)
7251 Preinkert Drive u no 6 " '
College Park, Maryland 20742 However, cognitive processes such as working memory or speed of processing may
USA also interfere with communication in background noise (Pichora-Fuller, 2003).
Email. Previous studies have shown that hearing loss is associated with cognitive decline
' (Lin et al., 2013). Clearly, this link between cognitive decline and hearing loss sup-
al t@ d. d
Sgs an um e u ports the importance of older adults, such as your grandmother, receiving a com-
prehensive audiological evaluation and suggestions for managing a hearing loss,
Jud R Dubno if identified. Yet, older adults are often reluctant to pursue help for their hearing
Y I difficulties because of assumptions regarding the high cost of hearing aids or how
Addle“-' the use of hearing aids may appear to others. Their friends may have shared nega-
DeP1“mem 0f Ot°1‘“Y“3°1°8Y tive experiences regarding hearing aid discomfort or inadequate performance in
Head and Neck 5“r8e‘Y background noise. And, when an individual finally makes a decision to seek help,
Medica1UniVerSitv °f 50"’-h Camlina he or she may find that the communication barriers resulting from hearing loss
135 Ru’-ledge Avenue» MSC 550 can be difficult to overcome, even with appropriate diagnosis and management,
Charleston» South Ca‘°1i““ 29425 for the reasons described in this article.
Email: The Audiologioal Evaluation
dubnol-r@muSC_edu What can the audiological evaluation reveal about your grandmothers ability to
participate in a conversation at a crowded dinner table? The typical evaluation
assesses peripheral hearing function in each ear by measuring detection of pure
tones at a wide range of frequencies (0.25-8 kHz) and plotting these thresholds
as an “audiogram” and by measuring the ability to understand one-syllable words
presented in quiet at conversational levels (“speech recognition”). Figure 1 dis-
plays pure-tone thresholds at a range of frequencies for a typical younger adult
‘I III | Acoustics Thday | Winter 2018 | volume 14, issue 4 ©2018Acoustical Society ofAmerica. All rights reserved.

   10   11   12   13   14