Engagement plays an essential role in our quality of life, whether it’s one-on-one or in larger settings. However, with aging, this may become harder to do as the ability to hear and see diminishes. Hearing loss and impairment affects millions of Americans, with estimates as high as 30% of adults over 65, and a dramatic 70% of adults 85 and up are affected.
Hearing impairment impacts overall health significantly. Imagine trying to participate in your favorite activity without the ability to hear. You would suddenly feel disoriented as you tried to understand what others were saying. Even following simple instructions for an activity would become difficult. This limitation could easily cause embarrassment and confusion. Which means soon, you might stop participating all together, leading to an emotional disconnection and eventually, isolation. The tendency to withdraw when faced with hearing impairment can quickly lead to a decline in an individual’s overall physical and emotional health.
Recently, the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society published information from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) that looked at 2,000 adults aged 50 and older. They found those who began using hearing aids to combat hearing loss experienced a decline of cognitive deterioration by 75%. These staggering numbers lead some to believe that adults who may have been diagnosed with dementia could, in fact, be dealing with hearing loss. Fortunately, as technology grows, so does the opportunity to overcome these limitations.
One such advancement we use at Maplewood Senior Living is Eversound. Eversound is a unique headphone system that connects directly to any audio source, while at the same time minimizing exterior noise that can be distracting or confusing.
Here are five simple benefits we’ve seen as we incorporated Eversound, into our Maplewood Senior Living communities:
- An alternative to the traditional hearing aids – not only are hearing aids expensive, they’re easy to leave behind. Because most hearing aids are small, they are often lost or forgotten. With Eversound headphones, residents who show up to an event can readily participate whether or not they have a hearing aid in place. Lauren Skillicorn, CDP and Memory Care Coordinator for Maplewood Senior Living explains, “I have residents that absolutely cannot participate unless they have a headset on, due to their hearing impairment and they don’t wear hearing aids.” Without the use of Eversound, Lauren sees residents close their eyes during programming, withdraw or be forced to continue asking, “What?” repeatedly because they can’t hear what the speaker is saying.
- A way to reduce noise – residents who have Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia may experience confusion in a loud common area, which means over time they may participate in activities less. Eversound headphones offer noise reduction while clarifying the voice of a speaker. Communal spaces become more enjoyable and interaction increases. Residents have difficulty tuning in for an activity when there is background noise. Even simple distractions like staff or resident conversations can make hearing more difficult. Lauren has noticed that even residents without hearing loss often choose to use Eversound because it helps them focus and engage, too.
- A clearer message which leads to increased participation – at Maplewood, there are many different ways to engage. However, even a small get-together can be a challenge if a resident doesn’t understand the message. With Eversound, the speaker’s voice is loud, and clear enough to be heard, which means residents who used to sit passively in the room are now actively engaging. It also allows residents to hear when they are outside of the community or normal activities, like on a field trip or when a guest speaker comes in. Lauren shares how she recently used Eversound for a visit from the Museum of Art. Because it’s so simple, the Museum staff was able to use it for their presentation of artwork, ensuring no resident felt left out. “It allows people to tune into programs that otherwise wouldn’t be able to,” says Lauren. This has led to a dramatic increase in participation with the system, as much as tenfold.
- Deepening connections with loved ones – when family members visit, residents often want to show them around or sit together in a beautiful common space. This can quickly lead to frustration if a resident can’t hear or understand their family during their visit. Eversound is easy enough to use in these one-on-one circumstances and immediately eliminates hearing challenges, so our residents are empowered to connect with their family during their time together.
- Individualized Music Therapy – proven to increase cognition and relieve anxiety, music therapy is also a way to deliver an uplifting experience on an individual or group basis. At Maplewood, we learn our resident’s preferences and help them enjoy their favorite music easily using Eversound headphones. As a group, such as during religious services, the system can be used for music and more. Residents can feel fully engaged while they participate with other residents.
At Maplewood Senior Living, we incorporate the latest technology into our communities to provide the best possible experience for our residents. Visit us by scheduling a tour here.