A headphone-based audio technology received high marks from residents, improving understanding and engagement during a recent case study, say researchers.

Eversound is an over-the-ear, wireless listening system that’s billed as an alternative to traditional hearing aids. It can be used in group activities and can deliver sounds without distraction to people who lack focus due to dementia, the developer claims. The Front Porch Center for Innovation and Technology recently tested the system as part of a larger project to introduce new consumer-oriented hearing devices to Front Porch communities. 

More than 77% of participants, including long-term care residents, were found to be more engaged in group activity when using the technology. And just as many reported that it improved their understanding of an event, Front Porch reported. In addition, care staff in skilled nursing and memory care settings observed positive changes in mood and behavior among residents when listening with the headphones. In fact, three-quarters of participants said they would use the devices again.

New technology like Eversound may bypass some of the accessibility, affordability and stigma issues attached to hearing aids, said Front Porch. Currently, only 30% of adults age 70 and older who would benefit from hearing aids use the devices, according to the National Institutes of Health. Front Porch has also worked with Bose’s Hearphones and Nuheara’s IQbuds.

“We’re in the midst of an exciting explosion of hearing solutions that is already disrupting the traditional hearing device market,” said FPCIW Director Davis Park. The impact on the wellbeing, independence and engagement of older adults will be significant, he concluded.