Aging and Hearing Loss

Do you have trouble hearing people on the other end of the telephone?

Do people complain about how high the volume is set on your television?

Do you struggle to follow a conversation or often feel like people are mumbling or speaking unclearly?

Do you routinely ask people to repeat themselves?

If you answer yes to these questions, you may be experiencing hearing loss. Although losing your hearing may not be something you want to think about, signs of hearing loss should not be ignored.

It’s very common to experience some type of hearing problem during the “seasoned” years. That’s because the likelihood of hearing loss increases the older we get. According to the National Institute on aging, hearing loss is one of the most common conditions affecting older adults. In fact, the institute found that 18 percent of American adults 45-64 years old, 30 percent of adults 65-74 years old, and 47 percent of adults 75 years old or older have a hearing impairment.

Many older people who’ve lost some of their hearing capability do not even realize they have a problem. That’s because changes in hearing often occur quite gradually. The initial signs are subtle. A person may slowly begin to find it difficult to distinguish certain words or perhaps background noise in public places starts getting in the way of being able to fully engage in conversations.

Although it may be tempting to overlook or deny the initial signs of hearing loss, it is important to pay attention to them. Avoiding the issue will not help. If you are not hearing as well as you used to, speak with your physician. He or she may have recommendations for you or refer you to a specialist.

Finding the most appropriate way to address hearing loss is important for our physical health, mental health, and overall well-being. People with unacknowledged cases of hearing loss can easily become frustrated, anxious, and depressed. At times, they may come across as unresponsive or confused… only because they are not hearing what’s going on around them or what is said to them.

Helpful Suggestions for Living with Hearing Loss…

  • Speak with your doctor right away. Make sure to talk with your doctor if you experience hearing loss. Your doctor will look for possible causes for the problem. It may be something as simple as a buildup of earwax or perhaps an infection that can be treated with medication.
  • Be honest. Let your loved ones and friends know about your hearing loss. If they realize there’s a problem, they will be better able to do whatever they can to help and support you.

  • Ask for what you need. If you’re having trouble hearing someone who is speaking to you, ask the person to speak louder, slower, and/or more clearly. Most people would much rather help you engage in conversation with them than have you only pretend to be hearing what they are saying.

  • Be face to face. When you talk with someone, make sure you’re facing each other. That way you can pick up clues from facial expressions, like a smile, frown, or scrunched up forehead.

  • Remove or avoid background disturbances. If you aren’t listening to the television or radio, shut them off. If you’re choosing a restaurant, find one with a quiet atmosphere. If you’re in a public place, look for a spot to talk where there’s the least amount of noise.

  • Take advantage of technology. There are a number of treatments, assistive devices, and strategies that are helpful to people with hearing loss. For some folks, using headphones when watching television or listening to music is helpful. Some find that increasing the volume on the phone or computer helps. There are also appliances and gadgets that alert people using lights or vibrations instead of sound settings. For some people, hearing aids, cochlear implants or other high tech devices can make a world of difference.

  • Watch out for scams. Unfortunately, there are some disreputable businesses that target and take advantage of people with hearing loss. They make false claims with no scientific research or medical recommendations behind them. Always speak with your doctor before making any purchase related to hear loss.

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