Hearing loss patients at higher risk of hospital readmission

Hearing loss patients at higher risk of hospital readmission

In Health, hearing loss, Lifestyle, News, Research by Laurie Duffy, M.S.

If you have hearing loss, you know how difficult it can be to get through the day. You struggle to communicate with your family during breakfast, narrowly avoid an accident on the way to work since you didn’t hear the warning honk from the car in your blind spot, and have a difficult time following the conversation during the weekly staff meeting. You get home from work exhausted, and cancel your evening plans with friends, because you are just too tired from straining to hear all day. Hearing loss has a major impact on quality of life, but did you know that it also increases your risk of injury and hospital readmission?

Risking your Safety

People with hearing loss might think hearing is only about communicating, but living with untreated hearing loss risks your personal safety, and the safety of your loved ones. Those with hearing loss are more prone to slips and falls, both at home and out and about in town. They also risk higher rates of accidents, since they’re not able to hear alarms, warning sirens, or even the shouts of the kids in the park who have accidentally sent their ball spinning towards your knees. If you have hearing loss, you’re more likely to be hospitalized than your hearing peers, and risk higher rates of hospital readmission.

At the Hospital with Hearing Loss

If you’ve found yourself at the hospital, you’re in for a lot of difficulty communicating. While you might be able to hear most things if you’re in a quiet place, a hospital ward is a far cry from the quiet of your living room. Hospitals are crowded with patients, visitors, nurses, and doctors, all passing back and forth through the echoing hallways. There are beeping machines everywhere, and alarms sounding through the PA system. Hospitals can be extremely noisy and chaotic, and if you’re in poor health, you’re far less able to deal with all this noise than when you’re feeling well.

When your doctor or nurse comes to check on you, or assess your situation, you’re unlikely to follow what they’re saying, and will face a major communication barrier. You may not answer a question accurately because you didn’t understand what was said, and the doctor may not fully understand your situation. And when it comes to following the doctor’s orders, how can you make sure you’re taking your medication appropriately if you struggle to hear the instructions?

Hospital Readmission

When you’ve had trouble communicating with medical personnel, it’s not surprising those with hearing loss face far higher rates of hospital readmission. In fact, according to a recent study at New York University, hard of hearing patients are 32% more likely to be readmitted within 30 days of discharge. The study collected data from over 4,400 seniors who were hospitalized at least once. Those who struggled to hear and couldn’t communicate with their care providers received worse care, and were far more likely to end up back in the hospital facing higher medical bills.

Researcher Jan Blustein from NYU thinks this issue needs to be addressed. “Attending to hearing loss is a strategy that hospitals really have not tried, and if they tried it, they might be able to reduce the risk of readmission for significant portion of their patients,” he commented.

Treating Hearing Loss

Hearing loss affects 1 in 3 seniors over the age of 65, and half of all seniors 75 years or older. Since hearing loss is such a common problem, you need to carefully consider the risks of living with untreated hearing loss. If you’ve been struggling to hear, you know the difficulty of communicating, straining to hear at work, and the challenges of maintaining your close relationships.

Don’t let hearing loss affect your life, or put you at risk of hospital readmission. Prioritize communication, and schedule a hearing test as soon as possible. Treating hearing loss is the best way to improve your relationships and your quality of life. You’ll be able to stay active and healthy, and avoid visiting the hospital.

Call us today at HearCare in Rhode Island to book a hearing test, and meet our team of hearing professionals. Visit us to find out what a hearing device can do for you.