Date of Paper/Work


Type of Paper/Work

Doctoral Project

Degree Name

Doctor of Occupational Therapy


Occupational Science/Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Julie Bass

Second Advisor

Kathleen Matuska


Doctor of Occupational Therapy


A quarter of older adults between 65-74 years old and half over the age of 75 have hearing loss (HL). HL can increase the risk for dementia, falls, depression, and hospitalization and is associated with decreased engagement in ADLs, IADLs, and leisure activities. Older adults with symptoms of HL often delay seeking treatment up to ten years. While hearing aids seem like a natural solution, less than thirty percent of older adults over the age of 70 have ever used them and long-term compliance and general satisfaction for these devices remains low.

The aim of this thesis is to spread understanding about occupational therapy’s role in supporting quality of life, function, and well-being in older adults with HL through alternative, hearing-related interventions including Hearing Assistive Technology (HAT), environmental acoustic modifications, and compensatory techniques. This knowledge was disseminated in three ways. The first method was to instruct occupational therapy students at two universities through curriculum presentation. The second method was to raise awareness and educate occupational therapy practitioners attending the National American Occupational Therapy Association conference by doing a poster presentation. The final method was to inform readers of OT Practice Magazine through a published article.

Older adults with HL have unmet needs that can be met in occupational therapy, and yet further research is needed within our profession on this topic. Occupational therapy educational programs can expand to include this aspect of sensory loss in its curriculum. Finally, our professional organizations can facilitate conversation and increase awareness about our unique opportunity to collaborate with other hearing health professionals to meet the needs of older adults with HL.