Age-Related Hearing Loss is Often Untreated

Age-Related Hearing Loss is Often Left Untreated

In Hearing Health, Hearing Loss by Jennifer Douberly, Au.D.

It’s pretty common to be in denial about ageing. However, it’s important to remember that growing older means your surviving – and isn’t that the goal. Our society is age obsessed and that comes with a collateral of resisting the changes to our body. Along with this often comes the denial of health issues which are more common with age.

Age related hearing loss affects one in three people over the age of 65 and one in two people over the age of 75. While it’s not a normal part of aging, it is incredibly common- due to changes in the ear as we age and differences in blood flow due to other comorbidities common with age such as cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and diabetes. While age related hearing loss cannot be reversed it can be treated effectively with hearing aids. However, of those who could benefit from treatment 69 and older, only 20% have ever tried them! 

Hearing loss is the third most prevalent chronic health condition facing older adults but unfortunately, only 20% of those individuals who might benefit from treatment actually seek help. Most tend to delay treatment until they cannot communicate even in the most ideal of listening situations. On average, hearing aid users wait over 10 years after their initial diagnosis to be fit with their first set of hearing.

Age-Related Hearing Loss

Also known as presbycusis, age related hearing loss is the third most common health issue affecting older adults. While we collect sound with our ears, sound is processed, identified, and understood in the auditory cortex of our brain. Sound is transferred from the ears to the brain via tiny hair-like cells called stereocilia, which convert audio vibration into electrical impulses. The stereocilia rely on a healthy supply of oxygenated blood in order to maintain optimal health and they are more prone to damage when deprived of vital nutrients. Due to comorbidities common with aging, hearing loss is all too common.

Impact of Hearing Loss

Besides being under-treated, hearing loss is also commonly underestimated. Many think of it as just an issue hearing others during conversation but these issues stretch far. When you struggle to hear it affects the quality of your conversations at home, at work and out and about. Common misunderstanding lead to lack of connection throughout your life, adding to feelings of estrangement and loneliness. Quickly a decrease in the quality of your connections leads to a loss of confidence, self-esteem, and a likeliness to try new things. In its place is a feeling of depression and social anxiety. This means that seniors with hearing loss are less inclined to stay active and feel motivated to put in the extra care it takes to maintain health as we age. 

Benefits of Treatment

Hearing aids have been found to not only increase your ability to connect to others but has a wide-reaching beneficial improvement on the totality of your life. Hearing aids certainly won’t fix thing over night and you still may require asking other for added presence and accommodation when conversing, but they certainly reduce the stress and disorientation of poor hearing. Numerous studies back up the claim that treating your hearing loss with hearing aids can improve several aspects of your life, including:

  • Higher Earning Power. Those with untreated hearing loss on average earn less and are at disproportionate levels of unemployment. However, those who treat their hearing are found to be on par with contemporaries with normal hearing.
  • Slower cognitive decline. When we struggle to hear, it puts stress on our brain. When the sounds we struggle with are amplified with hearing aids, your brain won’t have to struggle to hear, allowing less listening fatigue and allowing your brain to stay sharper for years to come.
  • Improved Personal Safety. Those with hearing loss are at a greater risk for falls and accidents due to lack of awareness of sound in a space. There is less reaction time for on coming vehicles, pets, and joggers. Hearing aids allow you to be more aware of your space and more alert for whatever comes your way!

What is holding you back from enjoying the life you love and cherish? The first step is simple! Contact us to set up a hearing exam!