The loss of hearing can bring up feelings of frustration, embarrassment and loneliness. When it occurs in a senior loved one, who may already suffer from isolation, hearing loss can exacerbate those feelings of isolation and lead to depression.
Hearing loss in the elderly can create significant safety concerns, causing the person with hearing loss to miss the doctor’s instructions, warning signals, fire alarms, etc.
Many seniors today suffer from some form of hearing loss – as many as one in three up to age 74, and a full half of all seniors age 75 and older, according to the NIDCD (National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders). The good news is, there are new technologies and advancements that can improve hearing significantly in the elderly.
Age-related hear loss is usually attributed by more than one factor, and may include:
- Hereditary factors
- Repeated long-term exposure to sound that is too loud, or too long, such as noises on the job with heavy machinery noises or loud music
- Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension or circulatory conditions
- Certain medicines, such as aspirin, antibiotics or chemotherapy
This type of hearing loss in the elderly typically occurs in both ears, affecting them equally. Because it is a gradual loss, it often leaves the elder unaware that he or she has suffered the loss.
There is currently no cure for age-related hearing loss, but many advances are being made and often seniors can find success in using a hearing aid device, specific to their needs. The treatment will depend on the severity of the loss. It is important for your loved one to have a consultation with a specially trained otolaryngologist or an ear-nose-throat physician, where the hearing loss can be measured and to determine if a hearing aid or other device will help.
In addition to hearing aids, the following may be an option for your elderly loved one struggling with hearing loss:
- Cochlear implants are small electronic devices surgically implanted in the inner ear that help provide a sense of sound to people who are profoundly deaf or hard-of-hearing.
- Bone anchored hearing systems bypass the ear canal and middle ear, and are designed to use the body’s natural ability to transfer sound through bone conduction. The sound processor picks up sound, converts it into vibrations, and then relays the vibrations through the skull bone to the inner ear.
- Assistive listening devices include telephone and cell phone amplifying devices, smartphone or tablet apps, and closed-circuit systems (hearing loop systems) in places of worship, theaters, and auditoriums.
- Lip reading or speech reading is another option that helps people with hearing problems follow conversational speech. People who use this method pay close attention to others when they talk by watching the speaker’s mouth and body movements. Special trainers can help your loved one learn how to lip read or speech read.
Nightingale Homecare is also on hand to help when hearing loss in the elderly is impacting quality of life, with a full range of Arizona in-home care for seniors. Contact us to learn more at 602-504-1555.
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