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Why Treat Age-Related Hearing Loss?

age related hearing loss
Beyond hypertension and arthritis, age-related hearing loss is the most common chronic condition affecting seniors.

Sensorineural (permanent) hearing loss affects almost one in four seniors between the ages of 65 and 74. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), that number increases to one in two people for those older than 75 years old.

Hearing loss can occur at many different levels of severity. In the more advanced cases, hearing loss is strongly associated with decreased quality of life. This is why it’s so important to recognize the signs of hearing loss and seek treatment early on.

7 Signs of Age-Related Hearing Loss

Age-related hearing loss, also known as presbycusis, occurs gradually. Here are seven signs of age-related hearing loss:

  1. People often sound as if they are mumbling.
  2. A ringing sound in one or both ears, also known as tinnitus.
  3. Difficulty understanding the speech of people with higher voices, especially women and children.
  4. Some sounds seem overly loud while other sounds do not register.
  5. Trouble hearing higher pitch sounds.
  6. Straining to understand conversation when other noise is present.
  7. Some signs of memory impairment such as difficulty following conversations, forgetting what people have said, confusion, and disinterestedness.

If you can identify with at least two of these indicators, you may want to schedule a professional hearing evaluation.

If you have a loved one with hearing loss, the topic must be approached gently. The average American deals with hearing loss for an average of 10 years before seeking treatment. Acknowledging the hearing loss is a big first step.

Solutions for Age-Related Hearing Loss

For age-related hearing loss, the two main treatments are either cochlear implants or hearing aids.

Hearing aids work by amplifying the sounds around the user. While hearing aids don’t repair hearing, they do substantially improve it. Hearing aids help reduce the strain of hearing, improving the delivery of auditory signals to the brain.

Cochlear implants allow seniors with more severe hearing loss to hear sound and speech once more. A Johns Hopkins study from 2013 found that cochlear implants greatly improved older individuals ability to hear speech and communicate. They also found that older adults who got the implants at a younger age had better long-term outcomes, meaning early treatment is key.

If cochlear implants are not an option or medical intervention is not viable, hearing aids are a great choice for many people of all ages, not just seniors.

Many people do not consider hearing aids because they believe hearing aids are out of their budget. In the past, hearing aids did carry a hefty price tag, but today they come in many different forms at many different price points.

Read more: Hearing Aid Costs – Ways to save money in the purchasing process

The Real Cost of Age-Related Hearing Loss

Although it seems easier and potentially less expensive to forego treatment all together, untreated hearing loss could cause numerous other health problems. These other health problems, both psychological and physical, can cost much more in the future. Dementia, depression, social anxiety, and an increased risk of falling have all been linked to hearing loss.

Read more: Are hearing loss and dementia linked?

“These other health problems, both psychological and physical, can cost much more in the future.”

Also, for those still working while dealing with hearing loss, the Better Hearing Institute conducted a study which found that those with hearing loss can make up to $12,000 less annually. The short-term savings from ignoring hearing loss can truly cost you down the road.

Regardless of income level or type of hearing loss, it is still worthwhile to schedule an appointment with an Audiologist. Hearing care professionals will be able to recommend treatment based on your individual circumstances, as there are many options available.

This guest blog post was written by Max Gottlieb, the content manager for Senior Planning and the Jenner Group. Both organizations are dedicated to helping seniors find housing and care options.

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The HearingLikeMe editorial team includes Jill von Bueren, Kirsten Brackett and Lisa Goldstein.
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The HearingLikeMe editorial team includes Jill von Bueren, Kirsten Brackett and Lisa Goldstein.