Research shows that more than 36-million Americans over the age of 75-years old suffer from some form of hearing loss. Losing your hearing is a natural part of the aging process, and the good news is that, in most cases, it’s a treatable condition.
Seniors who experience hearing loss typically start to withdraw from social interactions with others. Since they always have to strain to hear, and frequently ask people to repeat themselves, they begin to feel like it’s no longer worth the effort to try and please others.
As a result of social withdrawal, many affected seniors experience early-onset of cognitive diseases, such as Alzheimer’s. Along with cognitive decline comes issues with their mental health as well. Seniors who withdraw from social functions may experience loneliness and struggle with bouts of depression.
There’s no need to reduce your quality of life when treatments for hearing loss are readily available.
Why Hearing Loss Occurs
Hearing loss can occur for a variety of reasons. Whether its trauma to the ear, infection of the middle or inner ear or age-related – living with hearing loss is a challenge for many seniors. Individuals that spent their early careers working in high-noise environments; such as machine shops or mines, may develop early-onset hearing loss before the age of 65-years.
When compounded by infection or trauma to the ear, they can experience a rapid reduction in their hearing ability. In most cases, hearing loss is permanent and progresses in its symptoms as the affected individual ages.
Why Treat Your Hearing loss?
According to research from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, hearing loss is the third largest chronic health condition facing American’s today, with more than 36-million people experiencing some form of hearing loss.
Unfortunately, many people affected by hearing loss don’t seek the treatment they require. Losing your hearing occurs gradually over the span of decades, starting in your mid to late sixties. Many people don’t even realize they have a problem until someone else notifies them of their hearing impairment.
It’s vital for affected seniors to seek treatment from their doctor as soon as they notice signs of hearing loss. Your doctor refers you to a specialist audiologist that runs a battery of tests on your ears to determine the extent and severity of your hearing loss, as well as what you can expect from your hearing in the future as the condition progresses.
If left unmanaged and untreated, hearing loss can adversely affect the mental health of seniors. A lack of sensory stimulation may lead to the development of early-onset cognitive diseases, such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease.
People who withdraw from social functions due to hearing loss may start to experience sensations of loneliness and depression, which may turn to suicidal thoughts. Treating hearing loss is an absolute necessity for any senior that wants to ensure they enjoy the twilight years of their life.
Treatments for Conductive Hearing Loss
Conductive hearing loss describes a temporary condition affecting the middle ear. This condition occurs due to the buildup of earwax in the ear canal, resulting in impaction that reduces hearing. Damage or trauma to the ear may also perforate the eardrum, affecting hearing and balance.
Treatments for conductive hearing loss include medical procedures to remove blockages or growths disrupting normal hearing function. If the audiologist treats the condition, and the patient experiences no benefit, they may choose to issue new tests to check for sensorineural hearing loss.
Treatments for Sensorineural Hearing Loss
This type of hearing loss is a permanent condition. In most cases, SHL is age-related, and a natural part of life for most seniors. However, there are instances where SHL can occur due to trauma, or infection of the inner or middle ear. In such a case, the tiny hairs in the ear canal and the nerve endings are no longer able to send sound signals to the brain for interpretation efficiently.
The most common treatment for sensorineural hearing loss is the use of hearing aids or cochlear implants to return hearing to the affected individual. After receiving a diagnosis, the doctor refers the patient to a specialist audiologist that further examines the seniors hearing loss. The audiologist makes recommendations for hearing devices based on the hearing loss and its future progression in the patient.
Using Hearing Aids to Treat Hearing Loss
Hearing aid devices are a blessing for any senior suffering from the effects of hearing loss. Choosing the best hearing aids requires extensive knowledge of your situation and recommendations from your specialist about the hearing aid that will best suit your lifestyle. Rechargeable hearing aids are available from online retailers, with pricing ranging from $100 to $600 for a decent device.
Hearing aids cost a pretty penny, and if you’re working with a limited budget due to your pension, it may be a wise idea to check with your medical health insurance provider to see if they offer any contributions to the hearing aid price.
The price of your hearing aid does not indicate its effectiveness. Cheap hearing aids sometimes produce the same level of functionality as the more expensive versions. It’s a great idea to read through some hearing aid reviews before you decide on which model suits your needs.
Finding a pair of affordable hearing aids can bring you a new lease on life, allowing you to regain your hearing and join new social groups in your twilight years.
The Adjustment Period
It can take new users up to three months to adjust to their hearing aids. During this period, the extra sensory stimulation may leave the senior feeling awake at night, as the brain struggles to adapt to the new sensory input. During this period, doctors recommend that you tweak the settings until you find the balance that suits you best.
Remember to make a quarterly or bi-annual checkup with your audiologist to check on the progression of your condition, and the efficiency of your hearing aids. After a few months, you’ll wonder how you ever managed without your hearing device.