As your loved ones age, you expect things like the need for glasses or stories about when they were your age or changing hair color. Another change commonly connected with aging is hearing loss. This happens for numerous 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 dismiss the hearing impairment of an older friend or relative just because you knew it would happen. This is especially true because you may simply start to talk louder to compensate for the gradual hearing loss your loved one is developing. So you should take hearing loss seriously and speak with your loved one and here are four reasons why.
1. Hearing Issues Can Cause Needless Hazards
In a small house, smoke and fire alarms don’t usually have the flashing lights and other visual components that they have in a larger building. Fire is a drastic example, but hearing loss can cause sufferers to lose other day-to-day cues: A phone call, a doorbell, or a car horn (which can also be dangerous). Minor inconveniences or even major risks can be the outcome of diminished hearing.
2. There Can be an Increase in Cognitive Decline With Hearing Loss
There is a statistically significant connection between age related hearing loss and cognitive decline according to a large meta-study. The mechanism is debated, but the most common concept is that when people have a hard time hearing, they disengage socially, lowering their general level of engagement and failing to “exercise” their brains. On the other hand, some researchers contend that when we suffer from hearing loss, our brains work so much harder to process and understand sounds that other cognitive activities get less resources.
3. The High Price of Hearing Loss
Here’s a solid counter-argument to the concept that getting treatment for hearing loss is too expensive: Studies have shown that, for a number of reasons, untreated hearing loss can impact your wallet. For instance, research from 2016 that looked at health care costs for a sample of 55- to 64-year-old adults found that people with neglected hearing loss spent, on average, 33% more on doctor’s bills. Why? Individuals who suffer with hearing loss might have a hard time with communication causing them to skip preventative care appointments and thereby missing major health concerns which then leads to a larger medical bill in the future. One of the study’s authors speculated that this was precisely the scenario. Others suggest that hearing loss is connected to other health problems including cognitive decline. And if all that’s not enough consider this: Your paycheck could be directly affected, if you haven’t already retired, due to a decline in productivity caused by hearing impairment.
4. Hearing Impairment is Connected to Depression
There can also bo be mental and emotional health repercussions that come with hearing issues. The anxiety and stress of not being able to hear others clearly will often cause withdrawal and isolation. This isolation is linked to negative physical and mental consequences particularly in the elderly. The good news: Treating hearing loss can potentially help alleviate depression, partly because being able to hear makes social situations less anxiety-provoking. Research from the National Council on Aging found that people with hearing problems who have hearing aids report reduced symptoms associated with anxiety and depression and more frequently take part in social activities.
How You Can Help
Communicate! We mean yes, talk to your family member about hearing loss, and keep the conversation moving. This can help with mental engagement, and it can also help supply a second pair of ears (literally) assessing hearing. People over the age of 70 who suffer with hearing impairment commonly under-report it, though the reasons why are currently disputed. The next step is to motivate the individual with hearing impairment to make an appointment with us. Regular, professional hearing assessments are important for establishing a baseline and understanding how their hearing might be changing.