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Hearing loss and cognitive-communication test performance of long-term care residents with dementia: Effects of amplification

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  • Purpose: The study aims were: 1) to explore the relationship between hearing loss and cognitive-communication performance of individuals with dementia, and 2) to determine if hearing loss is accurately identified by long-term care (LTC) staff. The research questions were:

    1) What is the effect of amplification on cognitive-communication test performance of LTC residents with early to middle-stage dementia and mild-to-moderate hearing loss? 2) What is the relationship between measured hearing ability and hearing ability recorded by staff using Resident Assessment Instrument-Minimum Data Set 2.0 (RAI-MDS)?

    Method: Thirty-one residents from five long-term care facilities participated in this quasi-experimental cross-over study. Residents participated in cognitive-communication testing with and without amplification. RAI-MDS ratings of participants’ hearing were compared to audiological assessment results.

    Results: Participants’ Speech Intelligibility Index scores significantly improved with amplification; however, participants did not demonstrate significant improvement in cognitive communication test scores with amplification. A significant correlation was found between participants’ average pure-tone thresholds and RAI-MDS ratings of hearing, yet misclassification of hearing loss occurred for 44% of participants.

    Conclusions: Measuring short-term improvement of performance-based cognitive communication may not be the most effective means to assess amplification for individuals with dementia. Hearing screenings and staff education remain necessary to promote hearing health for LTC residents.

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    Article (Published)
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    © 2016 American Speech-Language-Hearing Association