Study: Increasing Resident Engagement With Audio Technology

By Cynthia Helzel G

roup activities are a mainstay of resident well-being in senior living. However, some residents

avoid engaging in group events because they can’t hear well enough to partici- pate. A case study by LCB Senior Living in collaboration with audio technology company Eversound tested a new system intended to assist residents who have hearing loss and encourage greater engagement. “One of the promises we make to resi-

dents when they come to live with us is that their world is going to open up,” says Ted Doyle, LCB vice president of marketing. “They’re going to be exposed to learning, culture, entertainment, and social interac- tion.” When residents can’t hear well, they don’t receive the full value from those expe- riences. The problem is particularly acute for those with dementia, whose symptoms are exacerbated by hearing impairments. Eversound seeks to address those issues

with a wireless headphone system designed to help adults in senior living communities participate more actively in group events. An Eversound kit consists of multiple head- phones, a wireless clip-on microphone, a car- rying case that also serves as a charging dock, and a transmitter that connects to any audio device including televisions, iPods, audiovi- sual systems, and the included microphone. There is nothing to permanently install and no changes need to be made to existing sys- tems or rooms. “We created the system to be so simple that anyone can work it right out of the box,” says Matt Reiners, Eversound vice president of customer impact, who co-founded the company with Jake Reisch, chief executive officer, and Devin Jameson, vice president of special projects. Each headphone has a large, easy-to-use volume adjustment dial. Comfort features


include adjustable headbands, lightweight antimicrobial materials, and a gentle fit suit- able for use with or without hearing aids. The microphone allows group leaders to speak in their normal tone of voice. The six-month LCB study included a 60-

day clinical trial at two LCB communities: The Residence at Otter Creek, which serves independent living, assisted living, and memory care residents, and The Arbors of Bedford, a memory care community. The study compared the experiences of

group participants with hearing loss who used the headphones against those who didn’t use them. More than 50 residents were included in the study. Twenty-five residents with self-acknowledged hearing loss were given headphones to wear during group activities. Analysis of the results showed that those

who used the headphones were more engaged in group activities, understood better, and socialized more. These factors improved whether the hearing loss was age-related or dementia-related. “It’s been more dramatic than we ever

thought it was going to be,” Doyle says. Use of the headphones during the clinical trial resulted in a 28 percent increase in resident engagement, shown by involvement in con- versation, volunteering answers, and other verbal expression. Also, 17 percent fewer residents disengaged from the activities by falling asleep or leaving altogether.

Headphone wearers also reported a reduc-

tion in interference from background noise. This was particularly important for residents with dementia, as it helped them concentrate and reduced distractions and over-stimula- tion. “We have found that not only are we more measurably engaging our residents with dementia, which was very important to us, but residents throughout the entire population of our communities have been benefiting from this,” Doyle says. LCB leadership was so impressed with

the results of the study that all its commu- nities now use the Eversound system. “It’s made the delivering of our programs much simpler,” Doyle says. Beyond LCB, the Ever- sound system is now used in more than 300 senior living communities nationwide.

Learn More The case study, titled “Headphone Hearing Technology for Elder Care: Eversound,” was led by memory care program developer and researcher Joshua J. Freitas, along with LCB memory care and engagement specialist Amber Evans and The Residence at Otter Creek engagement director Courtney Allenson. The full case study is available at

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