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 associated with aging is hearing impairment. There are many reasons why this occurs: Some medications or medical treatments like 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 just because an older friend or relative’s hearing impairment isn’t unexpected doesn’t mean it’s something you can ignore. This is particularly true because you may simply begin to talk louder to compensate for the progressive hearing loss your loved one is going through. So here are four major reasons you should take hearing loss seriously, and speak with your loved one about ways to manage it.
1. Hearing Problems Can Cause Needless Hazards
In a large building, smoke or fire alarms have a visual aspect (commonly a flashing light) along with being extremely loud, but the majority of home alarms do not. Individuals who suffer from hearing impairment can miss other less extreme day-to-day cues also: A phone call, a doorbell, or a car horn (which can also be hazardous). Minor inconveniences or even major challenges can be the result of diminished hearing.
2. Hearing Loss Has Been connected to an Increased Risk of Cognitive Decline
There is a statistically substantial connection between age related hearing loss and mental decline according to a large meta-study. What the relationship exactly is, is debated, but withdrawal from social activity which results in a reduced level of involvement and less stimulation for the brain is a leading theory. Having said that, some researchers argue that when we suffer from hearing impairment, our brains work so much harder to absorb and understand sounds that other cognitive tasks get fewer resources.
3. Hearing Loss Can be Costly
If your loved one is worried that treating hearing issues could be expensive, here’s a solid counter-argument: Studies have found that, for numerous reasons, neglected hearing loss can impact your wallet. As an example, people who have ignored hearing loss had, on average, a 33% higher medical expense, according to a 2016 study. Why? One of the study’s writers proposed that people who suffer with hearing loss might skip preventative care because of trouble communicating and thus end up with a hefty bill because a major health problem wasn’t caught sooner. Hearing loss is also linked to cognitive decline and various health problems, as other individuals have pointed out. And if all that’s not enough think about this: For those who haven’t retired, hearing loss is connected to reduced work productivity, potentially having an immediate effect on your paycheck.
4. There’s a Link Between Depression And Hearing Impairment
There can also bo be mental and emotional health consequences that come with hearing problems. The inability to hear people clearly can lead to anxiety and stress and increase withdrawal and solitude. This isolation is linked to negative physical and mental consequences particularly in older people. The good news: Social engagement will induce less anxiety with treatment for hearing impairment and this will result in less depression. A study from the National Council on Aging found that individuals with hearing difficulties who have hearing aids report reduced symptoms related to depression and anxiety and more frequently take part in social pursuits.
How You Can Help
Talk! Keep the conversation about hearing loss going with your loved one. This can help you evaluate the level of hearing loss by supplying a second pair of ears and it also furthers mental engagement. People over 70 with hearing impairment commonly under-report it, though the reasons why are presently disputed. Secondly, encourage your friend or relative to come see us. Getting your hearing tested on a regular basis can help you understand how your hearing is changing and can establish a baseline of your current hearing impairment.