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Study finds evidence of preserved hearing at end of life
Is hearing the last sense to go?
Family members and health care providers have long reported that patients nearing death will occasionally groan or make a small facial movement when they hear a familiar voice. But there’s been no empirical evidence to back up these anecdotes – until now.
A study published last month in Scientific Reports shows that some people may still be able to hear while in an unresponsive state at the end of their life.
Dr. Romayne Gallagher, a member of the Department of Family and Community Medicine at Providence Health Care, is one of the authors of the study. Now retired from clinical work, she was a palliative physician at St. John Hospice when the study took place. During her palliative care career, she noticed that patients seemed to relax when they heard the voice of a loved one at the bedside or over the phone.