LTC Resources - Hearing Loss

Social isolation, Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, and falls are all linked to hearing loss and are three of the top four reasons for admission to long term care facilities” - Canadian Hearing Society, 2014

Hearing loss is a partial or complete inability to hear; the onset occurs either suddenly or as a gradual decline in how well a person can hear. (5)

Why is it important?

  • Hearing loss is one of the fastest growing and prevalent chronic conditions affecting Canadians over the age of 65;more than 30% of these individuals experience some degree of hearing loss (6)
  • Untreated hearing loss can negatively impact one’s quality of life; decreased functional health, and reduced participation in social activities are symptoms of a person’s inability to cope with hearing loss (4)
  • Older adults with unmanaged hearing loss are at increased risk of cognitive decline, developing dementia, delirium and falling (3)
  • 90% of those with hearing loss can improve communication with proper assistive devices, environmental redesign, or counseling (3)

Common Causes

  • The two most common types of hearing loss include age-related (presbycusis) and noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) (9)
  • Infection, heart conditions, stroke, head injuries, tumours and certain medications (7)

Key Considerations

  • Conduct the Whisper Test to screen for hearing loss.  (whisper test & how to)
  • Health professionals should consider referring patients to an audiologist and hearing centres for consideration of hearing aides, cochlear implants, assistive listening devices or to learn lip reading
  • Patients may benefit from other assistive devices such as volume control telephones, computers to communicate, closed-captioned TV or decoder, amplifiers, and visual or vibrating alarms (1)
  • Cost for many is a key consideration when considering buying a hearing aid. Hearing aids and special audio systems must be purchased from a vendor registered with the Assistive Devices Program (ADP). ADP will reimburse eligible Ontarians 75% of the cost, including dispensing fee, ear molds and accessories, to a maximum of:
      • $500 of the cost of one hearing aid
      • $1,000 for two hearing aids
      • $1,350 of the cost of a specialized audio system (2)
  • When communicating with a patient: maintain eye contact, speak clearly and naturally,  move hands away from face, remove audio distractions, write things down if needed, use facial expressions and gestures when appropriate
  • To prevent further decline, avoid prolonged exposure to sounds greater than 85dB which can lead to permanent hearing loss (8)


1.  Canadian Academy of Audiology. (2014). Retrieved February 201 from

2.  Canadian Hard of Hearing Association. (2010). Canadian Hearing Aid Subsidies
     Retrieved February 2014 from:

3.  Canadian Hearing Society. (2013). Facts and Figures. Retrieved February 2014 from:

4.  National Academy on an Aging Society. (1999). Hearing Loss.
     Retrieved February 2014 from:

National Institutes of Health. (2013). Hearing Loss and Older Adults.
     Retrieved February 2014 from:

6.  Public Health Agency of Canada. (2006). Hearing Loss Info-Sheet for Seniors.
     Retrieved February 2014 from:

7.  The Hearing Foundation of Canada. (2010). Causes of Hearing Loss. Retrieved February 2014 from:

8.  The Hearing Foundation of Canada. (2010). Noise-Induced Hearing Loss and Prevention. 
     Retrieved February 2014 from:

9.  The Hearing Foundation of Canada. (2010). Statistics. Retrieved February 2014 from:

We are identifying and evaluating the resources for this area and encourage you to check back. If you have a suggestion for a resource appropriate to this sector, resource type and issue, we welcome you to email and provide us with some information about the resource.

Hearing impairment is a common but under-reported problem among older adults. The Hearing Handicap Inventory for the Elderly Screening Version (HHIE-S) is a 10-item questionnaire developed to assess how an individual perceives the social and emotional effects of hearing loss. The HHIE-S was designed to be used with non-institutionalized older adults in a variety of clinical and community settings. It is usually administered in a face-to-face interview. However, time constraints or a severe-to-profound hearing loss may preclude a face-to-face interview, in which case the HHIE-S may be administered by having the individual do a paper-and-pencil self-report.

This how to assessment tool is a simple and accurate test for detecting hearing impairment. Instructions and significance of results are provided. 1 Page.

We are identifying and evaluating the resources for this area and encourage you to check back. If you have a suggestion for a resource appropriate to this sector, resource type and issue, we welcome you to email and provide us with some information about the resource.

Dizziness, vertigo and disequilibrium are common symptoms reported by adults during visits to their doctors. They are all symptoms that can result from a peripheral vestibular disorder (a dysfunction of the balance organs of the inner ear) or central vestibular disorder (a dysfunction of one or more parts of the central nervous system that help process balance and spatial information).It is also quite possible that a person may have a combination of problems, such as a degenerative vestibular disorder along with a visual deficit such as cataracts or a neurological disorder such as a stroke.

As you age, the way your senses (hearing, vision, taste, smell, touch) give you information about the world changes. Your senses become less sharp, and this can make it harder for you to notice details.

Sensory changes can affect your lifestyle. You may have problems communicating, enjoying activities, and staying involved with people. Sensory changes can lead to isolation. Your senses receive information from your environment. This information can be in the form of sound, light, smells, tastes, and touch. Sensory information is converted into nerve signals that are carried to the brain. There, the signals are turned into meaningful sensations.A certain amount of stimulation is required before you become aware of a sensation. This minimum level of sensation is called the threshold. Aging raises this threshold. You need more stimulation to be aware of the sensation. 

This resource serves to educate the public on good communication methods to use with individuals who have hearing loss. Successful communication requires the efforts of all people involved in a conversation. Even when the person with hearing loss utilizes hearing aids and active listening strategies, it is crucial that others involved in the communication process consistently use good communication strategies.

This brochure features frequently asked questions and gives tips on what family and friends can do to help someone with hearing impairment. 

This link offers a number of educational resources on hearing including how hearing works, various causes of hearing loss, warning signs of loss and types and degrees.

The aging of the Cana­dian population presents medical and ethical challenges for clinicians. Increasingly, there is a need to ad­dress the issue of vulnerable older adults who live at risk in the community. Many have significant cognitive, psychiatric, and physical problems yet do not seek assistance. Assessment and intervention in these cases requires an interdisciplinary approach. An understanding of risk factors, the clinical evaluation process, competency issues, and basic management strategies is integral to good care.

The present study aims to identify whether there is a gap between evidence-based recommendations for the detection of sensory loss and the current practices in Quebec Occupational Therapy educational and employment settings.

At the Academy, connecting you to a welcoming and dynamic community of peers is one of our principal goals and core member benefits. Some of the best ways for you to get connected. We are pleased to announce the launch of our first general audiology community, a new collaboration platform that includes a document posting area, listserv capabilities, discussion forums, and social media integration. Visit the community, login, and start collaborating with your colleagues!