To assess the impact of personal amplification systems on quality of life of elderly persons and to compare conventional hearing aid with assistive listening device.
Audiologic, neuropsychologic, and quality-of-life measures were prospectively administered to 180 elderly, hearing-impaired persons before and after randomized 6 wk trials of four treatment conditions-a no-amplification condition and three different types of amplification: 1) conventional hearing aid, 2) assistive listening device, and 3) a combination of the two systems. All subjects volunteered to participate in a study comparing different amplification systems and were paid for their participation.
Both self-perceived handicap and speech understanding were improved significantly by all three amplification systems. There were no significant group differences between new users and previous users of amplification in self-assessed handicap after amplification use. Anecdotally, subjects preferred the sound quality of the assistive listening device, but an overwhelming majority (97.3%) still chose the conventional aid for use in daily living.
Results affirm the significant impact of amplification on the quality of life of elderly persons. The strong preference for the conventional hearing aid in everyday use undoubtedly reflects the fact that elderly users usually are not willing to endure the difficulties associated with the use of remote-microphone systems.