Hearing loss is one of the most common conditions affecting adults and affects about 1 in 3 older adults. An estimated 30 million to 48 million Americans have hearing loss that significantly diminishes the quality of their lives — academically, professionally, medically and socially.
One person in three, older than 60 years of age, has quality of life-diminishing hearing loss, but most older adults wait five to 15 years before they seek help. The longer the delay, the more one can miss out on the details of life and the harder it can be to adjust to hearing aids.
Age-related hearing loss is a sensorineural hearing loss that occurs when the tiny hair cells in the inner ear are damaged or die as we age. Contrary to many of our other cells, the hair cells in the inner ear do not re-grow or regenerate. So far, there is no medical cure or surgery for age-related hearing loss.
Address Your Hearing Loss
The National Register of Health Service Psychologists states in an online continuing education course, “For the majority of people with hearing loss, the difficulties faced can wreak havoc in a person’s life.” Yet, the Register added, “Many people who have hearing loss are not aware of it, do not accept the fact of it, or are unwilling to discuss their hearing loss.”
In a large survey by the National Council on the Aging, two-thirds of older adults with untreated hearing loss explained their reluctance to get a hearing aid with statements like “my hearing is not bad enough” or “I can get along without one,” One in five people in the study expressed concerns about looking and feeling too old. While this was the case, those in the survey who regularly wore their hearing aids were, on average, more socially active and less likely to be depressed, worried, paranoid or insecure.
Improve Your Communication
Many who are hard of hearing don’t realize how distressing it is to family members, who typically report feeling frustrated, annoyed and sad as a consequence of communication difficulties and misunderstandings. For the hearing-impaired, confusion, difficulty focusing and distracting thoughts are common cognitive impairments. The author of the Healthy Hearing report, Debbie Clason, pointed out that “the sooner you get help for your hearing impairment, the easier it will be for your brain to use the auditory pathways it’s developed for processing sound.”
When people can’t hear what is being said, they may become anxious and may become paranoid about what they can’t hear people say. Anger, embarrassment and a loss of self-esteem are very common when suffering from hearing loss. Links have also been found to an increased risk of dementia, which is not surprising given the diminished cognitive input an individual can endure with untreated hearing loss. Untreated hearing loss can have physical consequences as well, including excessive fatigue, stress and headaches, which may result straining to hear and comprehend what is being said around them each day.
There are safety issues, too, for someone who may miss auditory signals important for survival, like alarms, car horns and shouts of warning, as well as the potential impact of missing sounds like the ringing of a telephone, doorbell or alarm clock.
Reclaim Your Life
Working people with poor hearing are more likely to earn less than those with functioning hearing; they may even risk losing their jobs if the work depends on good communication. A 2011 study by the Better Hearing Institute, the educational arm of the Hearing Industries Association, found that untreated hearing loss adversely affected productivity, performance and career success, and was associated with a loss in earnings in a working environment. Those in the study with severe hearing loss were twice as likely to be unemployed as people with normal hearing and nearly twice as likely to be out of work as their peers who used hearing aids.
If you think you have an age-related hearing loss, you should have your hearing checked with a hearing test. Contact our team at Glendora Hearing to schedule an appointment. Our team can help you find out if you have an age-related hearing loss and may benefit from the use of hearing aids. You have nothing to lose in getting tested and so much to gain! We look forward to hearing from you.