One of the most common challenges faced by the older adult population is hearing loss. It is estimated that about one-third of older adults between the age range of 64-75 are experiencing hearing loss, even if they do not realize it. Signs such as the following can often be ignored, but if you or a loved one is experiencing more than one of these signs, it is important to see your doctor.
Signs of Hearing Loss:
- Have trouble hearing over the telephone
- Find it hard to follow conversations when two or more people are talking
- Often ask people to repeat what they are saying
- Need to turn up the TV volume so loud that others complain
- Have a problem hearing because of background noise
- Think that others seem to mumble
There are different kinds of hearing loss, but the most common experienced by older adults is referred to as presbycusis, which is age-based hearing loss. This usually occurs gradually in both ears. Because of how gradually it occurs, it is often difficult for one to notice the difference between their hearing before and after presbycusis takes place.
Hearing Loss and Depression
There are many older adults experiencing hearing loss who do not seek out treatment, or do not wear their hearing aids on a regular basis, if at all. When left untreated, hearing loss can actually be linked to depression. Hearing loss makes it harder to communicate with those around you, including close family members and friends. Those experiencing presbycusis have reported that sometimes in social situations, they do not participate, simply because of how difficult it can be or the possibility of embarassing themselves by not following the conversation correctly. You may feel disconnected from your loved ones, causing you to feel isolated and/or unloved. This social isolation can have a negative effect on one’s mental health.
In addition, there may be some sounds that you took for granted prior to your hearing loss. You may miss hearing certain kinds of music or even the sound of a loved one’s voice. This could also lead to depression, due to the loss that one might feel.
What Can You Do?
The most important thing you can do if you or a loved one is dealing with hearing loss is to get professional advice as soon as possible. By doing this, you are able to get more specific information that can help you based on your situation. You may be offered the chance to get hearing aids. If this is the case, it is important that you listen to the information the doctor gives you and wear them; out of all the older adults who would benefit from wearing their hearing aids, only about 30% actually use them on a regular basis. To recieve maximum assistance, it is necessary to follow the directions the medical professional provides.
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