This study was designed to evaluate long-term benefits of hearing aids in elderly individuals with hearing loss. A primary care cohort of 192 elderly, hearing-impaired veterans (mean age 72 ± 6, 97% White, 94% retired) were assessed at baseline and at 4, 8, and 12 months after hearing aid fitting. Drop-out rates at 4, 8, and 12 months were 5%, 13%, and 16%, respectively. Outcome assessments included several quality-of-life scales: Hearing Handicap Inventory in the Elderly (HHIE). Quantified Denver Scale of Communication Function (QDS), Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS), and the Short Portable Mental Status Questionnaire (SPMSQ). All quality-of-life areas improved significantly from baseline to 4-month post-hearing aid fittings (p < 0.05). Social and emotional (HHIE), communication (QDS), and depression (GDS) benefits were sustained at 8 and 12 months, whereas cognitive changes (SPMSQ) reverted to baseline at 12 months. We conclude that hearing aids provide sustained benefits for at least a year in these elderly individuals with hearing impairment.
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