Hearing loss is one of the most common conditions affecting older and elderly adults. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, one in three people between the ages of 65 and 74 has hearing loss, and nearly half of those older than 75 have difficulty hearing.
The ripple effect of hearing loss can be devastating. Having trouble hearing can make it hard to understand and follow a doctor’s advice. Hearing doorbells, and alarms becomes difficult. Having conversations with loved ones or long-time acquaintances such as the mailperson becomes hard. This can be frustrating, embarrassing and at worse, dangerous.
A new study, reported on in WebMD, links mental decline with hearing loss in the elderly. The study included close to 2000 men and women 70 years of age and over. The study, which began in the late 1990s, tested hearing in year five of the study. Over the next six years each person participated in a series of tests to assess decline in memory and thinking.
Those who experienced hearing loss showed a decline in memory and thinking that was 30-40 percent faster than those who did not have hearing loss.
There are many options to help with hearing loss, but first you need to detect its occurrence. Here are some questions based on a tool for hearing loss. If you answer yes to three or more of these questions you could have a hearing problem and you should check with your doctor.
- Do you sometimes feel embarrassed when you meet new people because you struggle to hear?
- Do you feel frustrated when talking to members of your family because you have difficulty hearing them?
- Do you have difficulty hearing when someone speaks in a whisper?
- Do you feel restricted or limited by a hearing problem?
- Do you have difficulty hearing when visiting friends, relatives, or neighbors?
- Does a hearing problem cause you to attend religious services less often than you would like?
- Does a hearing problem cause you to argue with family members?
- Do you have trouble hearing the TV or radio at levels that are loud enough for others?
- Do you feel that any difficulty with your hearing limits your personal or social life?
- Do you have trouble hearing family or friends when you are together in a restaurant?
Hearing loss happens for different reasons. Many people lose their hearing slowly as they age. Another reason for hearing loss with aging is having been exposed to year of loud noise. Many construction workers, farmers, musicians, airport workers and people in the armed forces are subject to hearing loss (often times it begins in their younger years).
There are a number of ways to address hearing loss. You must determine what works best for you and your circumstances. Here are a few ways to counter-act hearing loss:
- Hearing aids. They make sounds louder. Often things will sound different than you are used to, which can make getting use to a hearing aid difficult. You may need to try a number of hearing aids before you find the one that works for you.
- Cochlear implants. These are small electronic devices surgically implanted in the inner ear. These implants are for people whose hearing loss is severe.
- Assistive listening device. These include amplifying devices for the telephone, or cell phone. They can also be helpful in places of worship, theaters, and auditoriums.
- Lip reading. People who use this method pay close attention to others when they talk, by watching how the speaker’s mouth moves.
Sometimes it is difficult to accept that you have hearing loss. However the sooner you can be honest with yourself, the quicker you can find the solution that best works for you.