Perhaps you or someone you love is reaching their senior years and you’ve noticed it’s harder to communicate than it used to be? It may be the need to ask to repeat spoken conversation over again more often than not, trouble hearing over the phone or nightly debates over the level of the TV in your home. These are common signs that age related hearing loss is affecting you or your loved ones.
While hearing loss is the third most prevalent chronic health condition facing older adults sadly only 20% of those affected seek treatment. This is alarming because hearing loss is more than just an ear issue but even more so a communication issue that has dangerous side effects.
Age-Related Hearing Loss
As we age the probability of hearing loss becomes more and more likely. Age related hearing loss, also known as presbycusis is the most common cause of hearing loss affecting 1 in 3 seniors over 65 and half of those over 75. Presbycusis occurs as the tiny hairs called cilia of the inner ear become damaged or destroyed due to a lifetime of hearing. Cilia are responsible for delivering audio information to the brain to be processed and as less and less cilia remain intact, hearing speech and the world around us becomes more difficult.
It is often certain tones, pitches and consonants that go first as presbycusis first develop making it easy to miss just some words or sounds in conversation. This forces the brain to work overtime filling in gaps in conversation and creating frustrating and exhausting conditions to communicate.
Know the Signs of Presbycusis
One of the most frustrating parts of presbycusis is that you may not even realize you are dealing with it. This is because it starts slow and as it develops you may not remember the sounds you used to hear. The sounds of birds, the wind in the trees or normal accessible conversation may slip away from your memory.
Being able to recognize the signs of hearing loss can help you identify a problem before the negative side effects can start to take hold of you, your hearing and your life. With the prevalence of hearing loss as you age, it’s a good idea to screen for hearing loss at least annually from 65 on. The sooner hearing loss is treated the more likely you can avoid developing negative side effects from strained communication and hearing.
Impact of Hearing Loss
Communication issues due to hearing loss can start to affect your energy level making it exhausting to hold conversation all day. When conversation is this difficult it starts to affect your relationships with family, friends, your co-workers and significant others. Your personal relationships can suffer as constant miscommunication starts to wedge you apart from others. In the workplace, employers and co-workers come to rely on you less as miscommunication has you missing important details that affect the quality of your work.
These strains on all relationships can lead seniors to feel exhausted, depressed, anxious, and struggle with sleep issues. When listening is this difficult, many choose to isolate. Isolation in seniors is extremely dangerous. Many suspect that isolation causes brain atrophy, which many experts believe is connected to a greater risk of dementia and other memory issues. In addition, untreated hearing loss is connected to a greater risk of falls accidents and hospitalizations. With less audio cues, injuries are more common in seniors due to lack of awareness of their surroundings.
Treating your Hearing Loss
While there is no cure for presbycusis it can be treated effectively using hearing aids. Hearing aids amplify the world around you, making it easier to hear the people in your life and stay connected and engaged in the activities you enjoy most.
While hearing aids have been proven time and time again to improve quality of life and longevity, on average, hearing aid users wait over 10 years after their initial diagnosis to be fit with their first set of hearing. Don’t let this happen to you or someone you love. Make an appointment today to be fitted with hearing aids and get the most out of the life you love.