Many people just accept hearing loss as a part of aging like reading glasses or gray hair. But a study from Duke-NUS Medical School demonstrates a link between general health and hearing loss.
Senior citizens with hearing or vision loss commonly struggle more with depression, cognitive decline, and communication troubles. You might have already read about that. But one thing you might not recognize is that life expectancy can also be affected by hearing loss.
People who have untreated hearing loss, according to this research, may actually have a reduced lifespan. And, the likelihood that they will have a hard time undertaking activities required for everyday life just about doubles if the individual has both hearing and vision impairment. It’s both a physical problem and a quality of life problem.
While this might sound like sad news, there is a positive spin: hearing loss, for older adults, can be managed through a variety of methods. Even more significantly, having a hearing exam can help expose major health problems and inspire you to take better care of yourself, which will improve your life expectancy.
Why is Weak Health Connected With Hearing Loss?
Research undoubtedly shows a connection but the specific cause and effect isn’t perfectly understood.
Researchers at Johns Hopkins note that other issues such as increased risk of stroke and heart disease were observed in older people who had hearing loss.
These results make sense when you understand more about the causes of hearing loss. Many instances of hearing loss and tinnitus are tied to heart disease since high blood pressure affects the blood vessels in the ear canal. When the blood vessels are shrunken – which can be a consequence of smoking – the blood in the body needs to push harder to keep the ears (and everything else) working which leads to higher blood pressure. Older adults who have heart conditions and hearing loss commonly experience a whooshing noise in their ears, which is usually caused by high blood pressure.
Hearing loss has also been linked to dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and other forms of cognitive decline. Hearing specialists and other health professionals believe there are several reasons why the two are linked: for starters, the brain needs to work harder to differentiate words in a conversation, which allows less mental ability to actually process the words or do anything else. In other situations, many people who have hearing loss tend to be less social, frequently due to the difficulty they have communicating. There can be an extreme affect on a person’s mental health from social isolation leading to depression and anxiety.
How Hearing Loss Can be Treated by Older Adults
There are several options available to manage hearing loss in older adults, but as the studies reveal, the best thing to do is deal with the problem as soon as you can before it has more severe consequences.
Hearing aids are one form of treatment that can be very effective in dealing with your hearing loss. There are small discreet models of hearing aids that are Bluetooth ready and an assortment of other options are also available. What’s more, hearing aid technology has been improving basic quality-of-life issues. For instance, they block out background sound far better than older models and can be connected to cell phones, TVs, and computers to allow for better hearing during the entertainment.
Older adults can also visit a nutritionist or contact their doctor about changes to their diet to help counter additional hearing loss. There are links between iron deficiency anemia and hearing loss, for instance, which can often be treated by increasing the iron content in your diet. A better diet can help your other medical conditions and help you have better overall health.