You expect certain things as your loved ones grow older: Gray hair, needing glasses, stories about “When I was your age”. Hearing loss is another change that we associate with aging. This happens for many reasons: Some medications or medical treatments such as chemotherapy that cause structural harm to the ear, exposure to loud noises (this could be from loud concerts in your youth or on the job noises), or even natural changes to the inner ear.
But you can’t just ignore the hearing impairment of an older friend or relative just because you knew it would happen. This is especially true because you could simply start to speak louder to compensate for the progressive hearing loss your loved one is experiencing. So here are four principal reasons you should take hearing loss seriously, and speak with your loved one about ways to deal with it.
1. Unnecessary Hazard is Caused by Hearing Impairment
In a small house, smoke and fire alarms usually don’t have the flashing lights and other visual components that they have in a larger building. People who suffer from hearing impairment can miss other less severe day-to-day cues also: A doorbell, a phone call, or a car horn (which can also be hazardous). Minor inconveniences or even major challenges can be the outcome of reduced hearing.
2. Hearing impairment Has Been Linked to an Increased Danger of Cognitive Problems
A large meta-study found that age-related hearing loss had a statistically significant association with mental decline and dementia. What the connection exactly is, is debated, but withdrawal from social activity which results in a decreased level of engagement and less stimulation for the brain is a leading idea. Another leading theory is that the brain needs to work extra hard to try and fill in the missing auditory stimulus that’s lost with hearing loss, leaving less resources for mental function.
3. The High Price of Hearing Loss
If your loved one is worried that dealing with hearing issues could be expensive, here’s a solid counter-argument: Studies have shown that, for a number of reasons, neglected hearing loss can impact your wallet. For instance, people who have disregarded hearing loss had, on average, a 33% higher medical cost, according to a 2016 study. Why? One of the study’s authors proposed that people who suffer with hearing loss might skip preventative care due to difficulty communicating and thus wind up with a hefty bill because a major health problem wasn’t caught earlier. Hearing loss is also linked to mental decline and various health problems, as others have noted. Another point to think about: For individuals who haven’t retired, hearing loss is associated with decreased work productivity, potentially having a direct impact on your paycheck.
4. Hearing Impairment is Connected to Depression
There can also bo be mental and emotional health consequences that come with hearing problems. The inability to hear people distinctly can lead to anxiety and stress and increase detachment and isolation. This isolation is connected to unfavorable physical and mental outcomes especially in older people. The good news: Social interaction will provoke less anxiety with treatment for hearing impairment and this will lead to less depression. Research from the National Council on Aging revealed that individuals with hearing difficulty who have hearing aids report fewer symptoms associated with anxiety and depression and more frequently engage in social pursuits.
How You Can Help
Communicate! Keep the conversation about hearing loss going with your family member. This can help with mental engagement, and it can also help supply a second set of ears (literally) evaluating hearing. Although the reasons are debated, research has shown that individuals over 70 under-report hearing impairment. Secondly, encourage your friend or family member to come see us. Having your hearing examined regularly can help you learn how your hearing is changing and can establish a baseline of your current hearing impairment.