New hearing devices help re-discover sound.

How much does hearing loss impact our health as we age? A lot: the condition’s link to physical, social, and emotional complications include, exhaustion, headaches, stress, eating and sleeping problems, and depression. According to the NIH, one third of people between 65 and 74 experience hearing loss, with half of those older than 75 facing hearing difficulties.

“The health and wellness impact of hearing loss can’t be overstated,” says Kari Olson, President of FPCIW. “As we age, the inability to hear conversations and participate in discussions progressively takes us down a path self-isolation, and the mounting evidence of deteriorating health conditions due to social disengagement is impossible to ignore.”

Yet despite the availability of hearing aids, only 30 percent of adults 70 and older who would benefit from a hearing aid wear them. The reasons are many, but they include accessibility, affordability, and stigma.

An exciting class of accessible innovative listening devices is emerging in the hearing loss space, and the Front Porch Center for Innovation and Wellbeing (FPCIW) is exploring these hearing-aid alternatives to address this prevalent issue. With a grant award from the Consumer Technology Association Foundation (CTA), FPCIW will introduce group listening devices and personal sound amplification products (PSAP).

“We’re in the midst of an exciting explosion of hearing solutions that is already disrupting the traditional hearing device market, and the impact potential of these new solutions will be enormous to the wellness and independence of older adults,” says FPCIW director Davis Park. “This generous grant from the CTA Foundation enables us to test these consumer solutions and accelerate their adoption.”

FPCIW will deploy a group listening system developed by EverSound alongside PSAP devices, such as Bose’s Hearphones and NuHeara’s IQBuds, across 12 Front Porch communities. The project will assess the impact of these innovations on social engagement and quality of life among hundreds of older adults.

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