Our senses are designed to clue us in when something isn’t quite right. If you can’t see the road signs, losing your balance, wearing blue socks or red socks, if you are eating sugar or salt or if you are drinking sparkling water or white soda, you know it.
However, when it comes to age-related hearing loss, the process is so gradual it can continue for years before you or someone else notices it.
Signs of Hearing Loss
Misunderstanding what is being said such as mistaking “watering the plants” for “wetting your pants,” or accusing others of mumbling is often embarrassing, but can be how it begins. Men are often accused of tuning out their wives, but the high-pitched sounds of women and children can be difficult to hear in situations of ongoing hearing loss.
According to healthyhearing.com, one of the chief complaints health care professionals hear from patients complaining of hearing loss is that they can hear, but they can’t understand.
Hearing loss not only involves the ear, but the brain as well, where the sound is transmitted into meaningful language. Symptoms of age-related hearing loss vary from mild to profound, but most seniors deal with mild to moderate hearing loss, the type that makes it challenging to hear higher pitched sounds. Other symptoms include:
- Difficultly hearing phone calls
- Trouble following conversations
- Asking others to repeat what they said
- Very loud TV volume
- Background noise clouding conversations
- Feeling exhausted from trying to hear
Hearing Loss Can Affect Mental Health
Studies show that at least a third of those between 65 and 74 and half of those over 75 are dealing with hearing loss. Many of them are reluctant to admit they can’t hear, but not dealing with it can lead to depression or isolation in an attempt to mitigate embarrassment or frustration at not understanding conversations.
Hearing loss can also lead to increased risk of dementia, falls, and depression. According to a 2014 National Institutes of Health study, researchers found that hearing loss nearly doubled the risk of depression in adults. Those wearing a hearing aid were happier and had a greater quality of life.
Don’t Accept Difficult Hearing
Schedule a visit with an audiologist to get your hearing checked. There may be an easy remedy to boost your ability to hear, such as a hearing aid. Others may benefit from devices such a cochlear implant.
Hearing Aid Benefits
Prevent falls — According to Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, even mild hearing loss can triple the risk of falls as the individual is less aware of what is going on around them, making them more susceptible to colliding with another or tripping over a pet. Also, by using extra brain power to hear, the brain is unable to focus as well on surroundings.
Mood Boosting — Those who wearing hearing aids are more likely to participate in social activities as they no longer feel left out because they cannot hear conversations. A survey by the National Council on aging found that untreated hearing loss caused 30% of non-hearing-aid-users to battle depression.
Memory Improvement — Research at the University of Maryland found that wearing hearing aids improves memory because the brain isn’t working so hard to decipher words. Being able to hear frees up resources in the brain that can be used for cognitive function.
Relationship Building — Individuals with hearing loss who wear hearing devices have better relationships with family members, friends, and colleagues than those without. A Hear the World Foundation survey of more than 4,300 people about hearing aids and relationships revealed:
- 69.7% believe hearing aids have improved their relationships.
- 81% whose partner has been fitted with a hearing aid say they are glad.
- 40% say they receive more attention from their partner.
If you are struggling to understand your loved ones, it’s alright to ask for help. The benefits of visiting an audiologist and admitting that you are having difficulty will far out way the discomfiting knowledge that hearing loss is part of your reality.