More and more research is focusing on the repercussions of untreated hearing loss. A growing body of evidence is showing that, if there’s not a strategy to alleviate hearing loss, a whole host of other areas of health can be affected (especially in relation to brain function and cognition).
An article recently published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society highlighted a new area of concern. It found that for those over age 65 there is an increased rate of hospital readmission, regardless of what led to the hospitalization, for individuals with hearing loss.
It appears that the crux of the matter is that patients who have trouble communicating with healthcare staff are significantly more likely — by 32 percent — to find themselves in the hospital again within 30 days. This is an area of concern not just because of the health repercussions; Medicare will not pay for readmissions within 30 days for some conditions. Both hospitals and patients have a strong fiscal interest in preventing re-hospitalization.
“Hospitals are noisy chaotic places, and people with hearing loss may have trouble understanding key information, such as what medicines they should take after discharge, or how they should watch for or manage exacerbation of their symptoms,” explained one of the study’s researchers, Jan Blustein. “This puts them at risk for difficulties after they are discharged from hospital.”
The study was carried out in part under the auspices of New York University’s Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service and was entitled “Hospital Readmission Risk for Patients with Self‐Reported Hearing Loss and Communication Trouble.”
Although hospitals will probably begin programs to mitigate this issue, for individuals it is clear that the best strategy is to have hearing issues treated effectively prior to hospitalization. Just another good reason to not put off hearing examinations or any treatments that are required.