The impact of COVID-19 is widespread, and has impacted every individual and sector around the world in different ways. Professors are having to transition to virtual platforms of teaching, a surge of employers are now working from home, dentists have had to close their clinics, and children are staying home from school.
A recent article by hear-it.org explains that people with hearing loss are no exception. During the COVID-19 pandemic, people increasingly rely on their hearing for communications through channels such as the internet or television to catch the latest updates from their country and around the world on COVID-19, including critical advice from public health advisors and pandemic status updates from their region.
In addition, many older adults, who are at higher risk to the virus, are told to stay home and practice social distancing, leaving them to rely on virtual methods of communication. In all of these forms of communication, hearing plays a vital role. If an older adult is unable to hear, it could lead to difficulties accessing the news, and can also exacerbate social isolation.
For these reasons, it is important that hearing issues are addressed. Audiologists have been considered an essential service throughout the COVID-19 pandemic in many countries. Audiologists should follow guidelines made by the European Association of Hearing Professionals, which aim to allow hearing specialists to continue to deliver their vital hearing services, while at the same time avoiding the spread of the COVID-19.
In addition, it is crucial that older adults who use hearing instruments practice proper hygiene, by always washing their hands before touching their hearing instruments, and by ensuring they are disinfected when taking them off.
For further information, contact IFA Expert Dr Frank Lin, a cochlear implant surgeon who specializes in hearing solutions for older persons. His epidemiologic research has established the impact of hearing loss on the risk of cognitive decline and dementia in older adults and served as the basis of the 2017 Lancet Commission on dementia conclusion that hearing loss was the single largest potentially modifiable risk factor for dementia.
In addition, consider attending the IFA 15th Global Conference on Ageing “Rights Matter”, where presentations will be made on the importance of hearing in later life from leading experts under the key sub-theme “maximizing senses”.
For further information related to COVID-19 and older people, check out IFA’s COVID-19 Resource Library, which aims to inform and drive policy discussions through highlighting views of thought leaders on the rights of older people in the context of COVID-19.
Frank R. Lin, M.D., Ph.D. Professor
Dr. Lin’s epidemiologic research established the impact of hearing loss on the risk of cognitive decline, dementia & brain aging in elderly