Addressing Social Isolation in Hearing Rehabilitation


  • Marilyn Reed Baycrest Health Sciences University of Toronto


Recent findings from large population based studies highlight the connection between hearing loss and cognitive declines in older adults. Although the causal mechanisms remain unknown, the impact of age-related hearing loss on communication and its effect on social interactions has been proposed as one likely pathway.  Due to the severity of their communication difficulties, many seniors with hearing loss are unable to participate in groups and choose to avoid social encounters rather than deal with their challenges and frustrations.The resulting social isolation often leads to loneliness and depression, known to have a significant impact on healthy aging and quality of life. In the absence of a cure for dementia, there is a pressing need to address potential modifiable risk factors for cognitive decline. Due to the nature of auditory aging, communication challenges in the elderly may not be adequately addressed by amplification alone, and additional audiologic rehabilitation is often needed. Audiologists can teach compensatory behavioral communication strategies to improve top down processing and help to compensate for sensory deficits. Group rehab programs not only help older adults become more effective communicators, they also foster their participation and social interaction, known to promote cognitive health. This presentation describes the Hard of Hearing Club, an innovative approach to hearing rehabilitation for seniors with severe hearing loss at risk for social isolation. The club uses a social context to provide a supportive, accessible environment that addresses the activity/participation needs of these clients, in keeping with the WHO ICF model. Group members can function effectively as communicators, observing their own ‘rules for communication’, so that social interactions are positive and rewarding rather than the usual frustrating negative experiences to be avoided. The goals, outcomes of qualitative evaluation and reasons for the group’s success will be reported and discussed.


Abstract (294 words)

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How to Cite

Reed M. Addressing Social Isolation in Hearing Rehabilitation. Canadian Acoustics [Internet]. 2016 Aug. 9 [cited 2024 May 24];44(3). Available from:



Proceedings of the Acoustics Week in Canada