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Elderly Hearing Issues and Options

Elderly Hearing Issues and Options

New Age Care News

Elderly Hearing Issues and Options

As you age you have an increased risk of hearing loss. According to Age UK ‘Around 40% of people over 50 in the UK have some form of hearing loss’. Hearing loss does not usually happen overnight but rather is a gradual process.

 

What is hearing loss

Hearing loss is the reduced capacity to hear conversations or noises.

 

Causes of hearing loss in the elderly

There are many reasons that older adults may experience hearing loss. These include:

 

Aging

This is the most common cause of hearing loss. Many people as they age just naturally lose their hearing. This condition is known as presbycusis. It is not known why this affects some and not others but it can often run in families.

 

Noise

Prolonged exposure to loud noises throughout your life may also cause hearing loss. This condition is called noise-induced hearing loss. People such as construction workers, musicians, aircraft maintenance engineers and the armed forces are more susceptible to this given their repeated exposure to loud noises. 

 

Medical

Hearing loss can also be caused by infections both bacterial & viral, stroke, heart conditions, tumours and head injuries. Some medicines can also cause hearing loss such as ototoxic medications such as those used for the treatment of some cancers.

 

Signs you may have a hearing issue

There are few signs to look out for when it comes to hearing loss. These include:

  • Difficulty hearing what people are saying (especially in a crowd)
  • Regularly misunderstanding what people are saying.
  • General noises sounding muffled or unclear
  • Having to turn up the TV or radio to hear it better
  • Frequently asking people to repeat what they have said
  • Difficulty hearing what people are saying over the phone
  • Struggling to keep up with conversations
  • Not feeling fully engaged in conversations especially when it’s noisy.

 

The effects of hearing loss

Hearing loss can really impact your everyday life. It can impact how you feel and also your relationships with others. Here are some of the effects of hearing loss.

  • Frustration. If you are continually unable to hear parts of conversations it can lead to increased frustration, which can lead to anger and in extreme cases striking out.
  • Loneliness. If you can’t take part in conversations due to your hearing, it can be quite lonely. Some may withdraw from of social interactions altogether further increasing their loneliness.
  • Isolation. If people withdraw from social interactions, they will then begin to feel isolated from family, friends and society as a whole.
  • Depression. If frustration and loneliness build up, it may lead to depression. Studies show that those affected by hearing loss are more likely to suffer from depression. 
  • Decreased cognitive function. If a person has hearing issues their ability to focus, remember things can also decline.
  • Dementia. There now appears to be a strong link between people who have a hearing loss and the development of dementia. 

 

Treatment

If you think you or a loved one may have a hearing issue then you should first see your GP. They will do some simple tests to check your hearing. If they feel there is further investigation needed they will refer you to Audiologist or an Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) Specialist. They will conduct more in depth tests to determine the cause of your hearing loss and recommend treatment.

Hearing Aids are the most common treatment for hearing loss. They come in varying shapes, sizes and prices and will amplify the sounds making it easier to hear. Assistive hearing devices may also help. These include smartphone apps, external amplifying devices and caption phones. Implants are another option for severe hearing loss.

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