Aging and Hearing Loss
According to the National Institute on Deafness, one third of our elderly parents have hearing loss. And, upwards of 50% of those over 85 have hearing loss. Clearly, seniors lose hearing as they age.
Hearing loss may be the result of exposure to loud noises over a long time, viral or bacterial infections, heart conditions or stroke, head injuries, a punctured ear drum, wax buildup, reaction to medication, or heredity. My father combined old age and wax buildup to describe his hearing loss.
While hearing loss is considered a normal part of aging, it can make life increasingly difficult for those affected. It can cause a tremendous amount of isolation, frustration, and anxiety. Simple tasks such as following a doctor’s advice can be very difficult. Appropriate response time to safety warnings such as doorbells, phones, fire alarms, and home security alarms can be slowed. Deafness can also be a convenient excuse to skip out on social conversations.
Hearing problems that are ignored or untreated can grow worse. It is strongly recommended that elderly experiencing hearing loss see a physician. A doctor may suggest that you also see an audiologist, who are professionals trained to measure hearing. An audiologist will use an audiometer to test your ability to hear sounds of different pitch and loudness. It’s a painless test that can determine the benefits of a hearing aid, and if so which kind will work best.
Hearing aids today come in sizes that are virtually undetectable. They work by making sounds louder – although they sometimes will also increase the sound of background noises (such as crowds of people, or motor vehicle traffic).
Seniors should always consult your insurance carrier before buying a hearing aid – your policy may cover some or all of the expense. In many cases, an audiologist will not only make the recommendation but will allow the senior to try the hearing aid out before buying it.
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John D. Miller is the founder/owner of Home Care Partners, LLC, a Massachusetts business providing private duty, personalized in-home assistance and companion care services to those needing help in daily activities and household functions.
Phone: (781) 378-2164