Aging and Hearing Loss
We are all aware of the expected increase in the 65+ population as the baby-boomers age and increased life expectancy. While age and hearing loss frequently go hand-in-hand, hearing impairment is not considered a normal process of aging. Instead, hearing loss in the advanced years is likely the result of an accumulation of years of noise exposure, use of ototoxic medications, genetics, and chronic disease, such as vascular disease and diabetes. Side effects of untreated hearing loss include depression, family stress, and social isolation. Recent research has associated hearing loss with increased risk of cognitive decline and/or dementia, and the worse the hearing loss, the higher the risk. Because most hearing loss is very gradual over years, it may not be apparent to the patient that they actually have a hearing loss. Most patients are able to compensate for a hearing loss through careful use of verbal and contextual cues. Other common compensation tactics include loud speech, domination of the conversation, social withdrawal, and bluffing, or pretending to understand. If you, the patient, or a member of the patient’s family suspect a possible hearing loss, a hearing evaluation is warranted. Having appropriately fit hearing aids and receiving on-going aural rehabilitation and counseling can dramatically improve quality of life and overall satisfaction for the patient, as well as their family and care-givers.
Souza, P., “Hearing Loss and Aging: Implications for Audiologists.” ASHA.org. n.d. web. 1 June 2015.
Oyler, A., “Untreated Hearing Loss in Adults – A Growing National Epidemic.” ASHA.org. n.d. web. 1 June 2015