According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, nearly a quarter of adults between the ages of 65 and 74 and half of those over the age of 75 have disabling hearing loss. Unfortunately, fewer than a third of adults over the age of 70 who could benefit from a hearing aid have ever tried one.
Hearing loss is common in elderly adults due to various causes, including the aging of the structures of the ear. As nerve cells are worn down, it becomes more difficult to hear high frequencies, which makes it hard to discern consonant sounds. As a result, many seniors miss out on the full breadth of a conversation but may be too embarrassed to ask for clarification or admit that they can’t hear well. This can lead to feelings of isolation and depression. In some cases, hearing loss results in confusion, which may be mistaken for dementia.
The good news is that a number of devices are available to help your aging loved one hear better.
- Hearing aids magnify sounds, and although things sound a little different and can take some getting used to, with time, your loved one will likely be pleased with the results.
- Cochlear implants are an option for those who are completely deaf or profoundly hard-of-hearing. The implants are surgically implanted in the ear to provide sound and make communication easier.
- Assisting listening device, such as telephone amplifying devices, smart phone apps, and closed circuit systems in theaters and auditoriums help seniors “hear” and communicate more effectively.
An annual hearing screening can ensure hearing problems are identified early. While there may not be a lot you can do protect your loved one from further hearing loss, early detection can help you plan ahead for more serious hearing problems down the road.