Hearing impairment is a leading cause of disability globally and is particularly prevalent in elderly populations. Hearing aids are commonly recommended to mitigate the adverse effects on communication associated with hearing loss. However, the acceptability of hearing aids to elderly individuals is low and the majority of potential users do not wear hearing aids. Most hearing aids are designed with a discreet form factor in mind, to minimize device visibility. Given the range of comorbidities associated with hearing loss in the elderly, this conventional form factor may not always be optimal. The present study examined the experiences of elderly individuals with a recently developed, unconventional, body-worn hearing instrument, the EasyHear™ Grand (Logital Co. Ltd., Hong Kong). The bilaterally fitted instrument incorporates large controls, a color display, beamforming sound processing, and Bluetooth capabilities. Forty-three elderly participants (mean age=71; range 46-88 years) were surveyed to gauge level of benefit and satisfaction with the device and opinions regarding the hearing aid. They were assessed using three standardized questionnaires (the International Outcome Inventory-Hearing Aids, the Profile of Hearing Aid Benefit, and the Client Oriented Scale of Improvement) and through open-ended, structured interviews. Participants rated their EasyHear device fitting highly for hours of use and improved quality of life and rated the device favorably for improved communication and benefit in background noise. A majority of users felt the device improved listening ability in their expressed area of greatest need, and also for their second highest prioritized area of greatest need. Less than 10% of users felt their listening was only occasionally or hardly ever improved when using the body-worn device. Benefit and satisfaction ratings with the EasyHear Grand were comparable to those in studies involving conventional form factor devices. Interviews highlighted areas where users felt the device could be improved—extra noise reduction, changes to device dimensions, receiver/eartip fit, and cableless technology were among the areas mentioned. Many participants valued smartphone linkage and Bluetooth capability. The EasyHear Grand, with its body-worn design and large, simple controls, was well accepted by the majority of participants. Hearing aids that break from conventional design formats may benefit many elderly individuals with hearing impairment and promote increased user acceptability.
McPherson, B. (2018). Self-Reported Benefit and Satisfaction with a Beamforming Body-Worn Hearing Aid for Elderly Adults. International Journal of Otolaryngology, 2018, 1–14. https://doi.org/10.1155/2018/2046894