How Common are Ear Problems in People Over 55
If you’re past 50 or have relatives who have reached that age, you might notice that hearing problems seem to accompany aging. This is because chronic hearing loss is a common issue among older people.
According to The National Institute on Aging, over 30% of those between 65-74 have some difficulty hearing and of those above that age range, almost half have hearing loss.
However, younger people can also be affected. This study showed that a quarter of those in the 55-64 age cohort and 11% of those aged 45-54 had documented hearing loss.
While there can be negative impacts associated with a loss in hearing, there are also many ways to correct the problem. There are hearing aids and other options to help improve the situation as well as the option of using different communication techniques.
One thing to remember – shouting at someone who is losing their hearing may not be helpful. That is because often age-related hearing loss is not due to lack of volume but due to the inability to detect certain audio frequencies. In other words, sounds seem distorted.
Older people with hearing loss can hear, but they may have a harder time detecting particular frequencies. This can be particularly painful for those with grandchildren. Because they have a harder time detecting higher pitched voices, they will not be able to communicate as effectively with their beloved younger relatives.
There can also be an issue with misunderstanding speech as certain syllables may be expressed at a relatively higher pitch than others. This makes it harder to decipher communications even between those whose normal speech range is generally at a lower pitch.
So what should you do if you are worried that you or someone you love might be experiencing hearing loss?
Talk to your loved ones
If you notice a loved one keeps asking you to repeat yourself, don’t assume they know their hearing has declined. Talk to them about what you are experiencing. Realize that they may not realize they are having a loss in hearing because they can still hear, just not with the same quality as before.
Alternatively, if you suspect you are the one who has lost some hearing, don’t be afraid to have a frank discussion with loved ones. They will probably be relieved to have this talk with you.
Don’t put off dealing with the problem!
As with so many issues, procrastination is not helpful. If you notice that you are missing out on key parts of conversations or having a harder time communicating with people, then you need to get it addressed as soon as possible. While often people want to avoid dealing with a potentially unpleasant topic such as loss of function, there are reasons not to postpone this.
These include taking care of your brain, another area of concern as people age. The fact is that when your ability to hear declines, it can adversely affect your cognitive ability. Being able to hear can also protect against dementia, and keep your auditory cortex in good shape.
Hearing loss also negatively impacts your social relationships. Family members can become frustrated as they struggle to communicate on a daily basis. Friends can be less likely to socialize with someone who is suffering from hearing loss. And employers and fellow workers may also be affected. All of these experiences can leave the person who is losing their hearing feeling socially isolated.
Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to avoid these issues, but it’s crucial that you address the issue in a timely manner. Often solutions are more easily adapted if the problem is still relatively minor. The longer you wait, the harder it may be to find a good solution.
Hearing aids are not the only option
While hearing aids are a great choice for many people, they are not the best option for everyone. There are several reasons for this. There may be physical reasons a hearing aid is not appropriate, for example, or they may just cause additional frustration as not everyone can learn to adjust to them. For those with severe hearing loss, they may not be as helpful, either.
They also require routine maintenance, which may seem overwhelming to some people.
If someone has been dealing with hearing loss for a long time, it may be harder to adjust to a hearing aid as the auditory complex may already have lost functionality.
Another issue is that as people age and cognitive decline, it is harder for them to make the transition to using a hearing aid.
These are all good reasons to consult a specialist early on. However, even if a hearing aid is not a good option, there are other resources available.
Depending on the physiological causes of hearing loss, surgery may be an option, for example.
Another, simpler option might be to improve communication by simply seeking out more peaceful environments with less noise pollution and fewer distractions, and to hold face-to-face interactions. This allows the person suffering from hearing loss to see and read your lips, which makes it easier for them to understand you.
There are also devices that can be used with phones, TV sets and other devices that can help people hear them better, as well as simple amplification devices that can be hand-held that might be more appropriate for some people.
Seeking medical help
It’s important to seek competent medical treatment if you are suffering from hearing loss. One great option if you need help is an audiologist in Philadelphia PA who will provide the expertise you need.
It’s a good idea to be proactive in finding what options work best for you. Since routine audio screenings are seldom done, you need to ask for these tests. Given what a huge impact being able to hear has on your life, it’s crucial that you stay on top of this and ask for the help you need.