Hearing Loss and the Elderly

In society, getting older is a cause for concern. The elderly are viewed as feeble and in need of care. All elderly people are not the same but more likely than not, they will keep hearing loss a secret to avoid the stigma associated with it.

As you age, hearing loss is a fact of life. Depending on your health, hearing loss may be more profound in some than in others. There is a name for this type of hearing loss, called presbycusis. Presybcusis has many causes including age, exposure to loud noises for many years, illness and auditory damage due to chemicals. Whatever the cause, the result is the same: you will slowly lose your hearing.

With moderate hearing loss, elderly people can learn to “fake” it. You can still hear well enough to distinguish conversations. When you can’t, such as in a crowded room or when someone is calling to you from behind, you pretend not to hear or to be distracted. That will work well for a while but is not a permanent solution.

There is a dangerous side to undisclosed hearing loss. Without treatment, a hearing problem can compromise your safety and that of others. For instance, hearing is very important while driving. Not hearing the warning blare of a car horn or an emergency vehicle can lead to an accident.

Many elderly people are afraid that they will lose their independence because of hearing loss. Children may decide to put them into nursing homes or assisted living facilities instead of letting them continue to live alone. The threat of this outcome is more than they can bear. Even with silence though, hearing loss can be mistaken for senility or some other disease process.

The elderly retreat into their own isolated world to avoid their hearing loss from being discovered. Instead of risking a social situation where they won’t be able to hear, they withdraw from friends and family saying that they are too tired to participate. Just the toll of isolation and the worry can lead to depression.

If you do suffer from hearing loss, the bets thing is to be upfront with the people who love you. Tell them of your concerns. Look for options to combat hearing loss together. One option is hearing aids. If your hearing loss is mild to moderate, a set of hearing aids may increase your decibel range.

The key is to confront a hearing problem before it gets out of hand. To avoid further hearing loss, lower your risk factors. Monitor the sound level around you at all times to preserve your remaining cells in your inner ear. It may not be necessary to give up your independence because you are losing your hearing.