Many older Americans experience hearing losses of varying degrees of severity. In fact, more than half of all Americans over the age of 75 have some hearing loss. These hearing challenges can negatively impact their quality of life and disrupt relationships. Fortunately, a newfound hearing loss does not have to permanently change or limit your life if you follow some of the steps found in this article. Although there is no one size fits all answer to how to navigate hearing loss, you should take the recommendations that fit your needs and modify other recommendations, as necessary.
Hearing Loss: Sudden or Gradual?
Before we look at these important steps, it is important to remember that hearing loss is not always easy to diagnose, particularly in older people. In older Americans, hearing loss is often not sudden and dramatic. Instead, it happens gradually over time. And often people will not recognize their own hearing loss because of this slow onset. Relatives may also struggle to recognize this hearing loss. Often, hearing challenges can be mistaken for cognitive decline. This is because, at times, when people do not hear what others are saying, they will simply disengage from the conversation.
Take a look at our 3 recommendations for navigating hearing loss below.
#1 Be Aware
Being aware of the first signs and symptoms of hearing loss can help you get the help that you need more quickly. This means recognizing some of the most common symptoms of hearing loss. If you start to notice that you are regularly turning up the volume on your TV set or radio then this could be an early sign of a hearing loss. Another sign of trouble could be if you start having trouble hearing what people are saying on the phone. In addition, many people with hearing losses report that they struggle to hear in restaurants or other locations that have lots of background noise.
If you’re a family member, you should also be on the lookout for some of these warning signs. Note if your loved one starts asking you to repeat yourself more frequently, says “what” a lot, or seems to be disengaged from conversations. If you see this happening, then it may be the time to urge them to visit their family doctor or audiologist to raise these questions.
#2 Hearing Loss Is Physical, But It Is Also Psychological
The immediate effects of a hearing loss are clearly physical. But, the impact does not stop there. It also has profound psychological impacts on affected individuals. Hearing loss can make people feel incredibly isolated, and struggles with hearing can also mean that a person may be less likely to engage in their usual hobbies and activities.
Also, as noted above, sometimes hearing loss can be misdiagnosed as cognitive decline or dementia, leading to other problems. It is important for family members and friends to recognize these challenges and also take steps to help make it easier for their loved ones. This could mean switching telephone communication from phone calls to texts or speaking more loudly and more distinctly. It may also be helpful to organize social outings in settings that do not have a lot of background noise.
#3 Hearing Aids: A Financial Challenge
Hearing aids are an important tool that allows people with hearing loss the opportunity to regain their normal functioning. However, it’s also important to note that hearing aids are expensive. Hearing aid prices can vary dramatically, but in general range from a minimum of $1,000 per device to more than $6,000 per device. In addition, not all insurance companies cover the cost of hearing aids and this leads some people struggling with the question of how they will pay for these medically necessary devices. However, there are options for financial assistance. For more information on these options, you can visit the Hearing Loss Association of America. No one should ever be unable to get the devices that they need for financial reasons.
Why Do Some People Struggle With Hearing?
The ear, as with any human body part, is extremely complex, which means that there may be many reasons why a person struggles with their hearing. For example, hearing may be damaged from a lifetime of being exposed to loud decibels. This sound exposure is often linked to a person’s profession. Some jobs, such as many in a factory, are simply loud, and unfortunately, many workers do not have adequate ear protection.
Some people may experience hearing loss due to a viral infection or fever. In some cases, if there is a rapid loss of hearing, this could be linked to something such as a tumor or head injury. For some of these causes of hearing loss, there may not be a treatment option to reverse the loss of hearing. But, in other cases, hearing loss can be halted or reversed. For example, some people may have a sudden hearing loss because of ear wax build-up. This can easily be treated at home or in your doctor’s office.
These varied reasons for hearing loss means that it is important to consult with a highly qualified medical professional who can first diagnose your issue and then recommend what to do next.
Hearing loss is a significant problem among older Americans that dramatically impacts a person’s physical and mental health. There are many reasons for hearing loss. Sometimes, people gradually lose their hearing because of a lifetime of unprotected exposure to loud noises. Other people lose their hearing because of illnesses, diseases, and injuries. It is vitally important when people first notice symptoms of hearing loss that they seek input from their medical professionals.
If hearing loss is impacting you or a loved one, we have home health aides that are trained on assisting those with hearing challenges. To learn more about how Community Home Health Care can help, take a look at our website! No one should let hearing loss get in the way of a long and healthy life in retirement.