You expect certain things as your loved ones grow older: Gray hair, the need for bifocals, stories about “When I was your age”. Another change typically connected with aging is hearing impairment. This happens for numerous reasons: Some medications or medical treatments like chemotherapy that cause structural harm to the ear, exposure to loud sounds (this could be from loud concerts in your youth or on the job noises), or even normal changes to the inner ear.
But you can’t simply dismiss the hearing loss of an older friend or relative just because you knew it would happen. This is especially true because you may simply start to talk louder to compensate for the gradual hearing loss your loved one is developing. So here are four principal reasons you should take hearing loss seriously, and talk to your loved one about ways to manage it.
1. Unnecessary Hazard is Caused by Hearing Loss
In a small house, smoke and fire alarms don’t usually have the flashing lights and other visual elements that larger buildings have. Fire is an extreme illustration, but hearing loss can cause sufferers to miss other everyday cues: A phone call, a doorbell, or a car horn (which can also be unsafe). A decreased ability to react to auditory cues can lead to minor inconveniences or major risks.
2. There Can be an Increase in Cognitive Decline With Hearing Loss
There is a statistically substantial connection between age related hearing impairment and cognitive decline according to a large meta-study. What the relationship exactly is, is debated, but withdrawal from social activity which results in a reduced level of involvement and less stimulation for the brain is a leading idea. Another prominent theory is that the brain needs to work extra hard to try to fill in the missing auditory stimulus that’s lost with hearing loss, leaving less resources for mental function.
3. The High Price of Hearing Loss
Here’s a strong counter-argument to the concept that getting treatment for hearing loss is too expensive: Studies have shown that, for numerous reasons, neglected hearing loss can impact your wallet. For example, research from 2016 that evaluated health care expenses for a sample of 55- to 64-year-old adults found that people with neglected hearing loss spent, on average, 33% more on doctor’s bills. Why? One of the study’s authors speculated that individuals with hearing loss might skip preventative care due to trouble communicating and thus wind up with a large bill because a major health issue wasn’t caught earlier. Hearing loss is also linked to cognitive decline and various health issues, as other individuals have noted. Another point to think about: Your paycheck could be immediately affected, if you haven’t already retired, because of a decrease in productivity caused by hearing impairment.
4. Hearing Impairment is Connected to Depression
There can also bo be mental and emotional health repercussions that come with hearing troubles. The inability to hear people distinctly can lead to anxiety and stress and increase detachment and solitude. This isolation is related to negative physical and mental repercussions particularly in older people. The good news: Managing hearing loss can potentially help decrease depression, partly because being able to hear makes social engagement less anxious. People who use hearing aids to treat hearing impairment show fewer symptoms of depression and are more socially active according to a study done by the National Council on Aging.
How to do Your Part
Communicate! Keep the conversation about hearing impairment going with your loved one. This can help with mental engagement, and it can also help supply a second set of ears (literally) assessing hearing. People over 70 with hearing impairment commonly under-report it, though the reasons why are currently disputed. Secondly, motivate your friend or family member to come see us. Having your hearing examined on a regular basis can help you learn how your hearing is changing and can establish a baseline of your current hearing loss.