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Hearing Aids Bring Ellen Back Into The Conversation

Dec 05, 2016 Hearing Aids Bring Ellen Back Into The Conversation

Ellen* was diagnosed with dementia and didn’t communicate much. She no longer participated in family gatherings. Our audiologist diagnosed her with severe hearing loss in both ears. See what happened when Ellen was fitted with hearing aids…

Hearing loss can have a significant effect on people and their overall well-being. Research over the past few years has found that hearing loss can increase the risk for dementia, cognitive decline and memory issues (Lin, F. 2011) and lead to social isolation.

Ellen No Longer Participated In Family Gatherings

Our patient Ellen* for example, was brought into the clinic by her daughter Susan* because her family was tired of having to shout at Ellen to communicate. During the case history, Ellen didn’t speak for herself. Susan discussed how difficult it was to talk to her mother, and how Ellen no longer participated in family gatherings.

Susan and her siblings wished that they were able to enjoy their mother’s company and have her be part of the family again.

Family Believed Help Wasn’t Available

Ellen had been diagnosed with early dementia and some family members were convinced that help wasn’t available to improve Ellen’s well being and communication. However, Susan wanted to try everything to help improve her mother’s quality of life.

The Audiologist determined that Ellen had a severe hearing loss in both ears and the treatment recommended was to fit her with hearing aids. Susan was determined to help her mother hear better, even when her siblings didn’t see the benefit in purchasing hearing aids for Ellen because of her dementia.

Ellen Didn’t Communicate

On the day of her hearing aid fitting, Susan brought Ellen into the office, where she sat quietly in her chair with her head down, staring at her folded hands. Ellen didn’t say anything or make any eye contact as the Audiologist fit her new hearing devices.

Then came the moment when the hearing aids were turned on

Ellen lifted her head and turned to Susan because she could hear her voice, and a smile spread across Ellen’s face. Susan was shocked that her mother was now responding and participating in the conversation during the appointment.

Ellen Was Part Of The Family Again

At her follow-up appointment, Susan and Ellen entered the office with great news to report. Ellen had shared conversations with her children and grandchildren at a family dinner and was very thankful to feel like a part of her family again.

* Names and image changed to protect the privacy of the patient and family. 


1) Lin FR, Metter EJ, O'Brien RJ, Resnick SM, Zonderman A, Ferrucci L. Hearing loss and incident dementia. Arch Neurol. 2011 Feb;68(2):214-20.

2) Lin FR, Thorpe R, Gordon-Salant S, Ferrucci L. Hearing loss prevalence and risk factors among older adults in the United States. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2011 May;66(5):582-90.

3) Lin FR, Ferrucci L, Metter EJ, An Y, Zonderman AB, Resnick SM. Hearing loss and cognition in the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging. Neuropsychology. 2011 Nov;25(6):763-70.

4) Lin FR. Hearing loss and cognition among older adults in the United States. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2011 Oct; (66(10): 1131-6.

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