You Should Watch Your Aunt’s Hearing, This Is Why

Woman communicating with her hands as she struggles to hear conversation.

As your loved ones get older, you expect things like the need for bifocals or stories about when they were your age or changing hair color. Another change generally connected with aging is hearing loss. This happens for numerous reasons: Some medications or medical treatments such as chemotherapy that cause structural damage to the ear, exposure to loud sounds (this could be from loud concerts in your youth or on the job noises), or even normal changes to the inner ear.

But you can’t simply dismiss the hearing impairment of an older friend or relative just because you knew it would happen. This is particularly true because you may simply begin to talk louder to compensate for the gradual hearing loss your loved one is developing. So you should be serious about hearing impairment and have a talk with your loved one and here are four reasons why.

1. Needless Hazard is Created by Hearing Loss

In a small house, smoke and fire alarms usually don’t have the flashing lights and other visual components that larger buildings have. People who suffer from hearing loss can miss other less severe day-to-day cues as well: Getting a phone call, someone ringing the doorbell, or (and yes, we’re back in likely really hazardous territory here) car horns. A reduced ability to react to auditory cues can lead to minor inconveniences or significant risks.

2. There Can be an Increase in Mental Decline With Hearing Loss

A large meta-study found that age-related hearing loss had a statistically significant association with mental decline and dementia. What the connection exactly is, is debated, but withdrawal from social activity which results in a decreased level of involvement and less stimulation for the brain is a leading idea. However, some researchers contend that when we experience hearing loss, our brains work so much harder to absorb and comprehend sounds that other cognitive activities get less resources.

3. The High Cost of Hearing Loss

Here’s a solid counter-argument to the concept that getting treatment for hearing loss is too expensive: Neglected hearing loss can impact your finances for numerous reasons. For instance, people who have neglected hearing loss had, on average, a 33% higher medical cost, according to a 2016 study. Why? One of the study’s authors speculated that individuals who suffer with hearing loss might avoid preventative care due to difficulty communicating and thus end up with a large bill because a major health issue wasn’t caught earlier. Other individuals suggest that hearing loss is related to other health issues including cognitive decline. Another point to consider: For people who haven’t retired, hearing loss is associated with reduced work productivity, potentially having an immediate effect on your paycheck.

4. There’s a Link Between Depression And Hearing Loss

Difficulty hearing can have emotional and mental health consequences, also. The inability to hear people distinctly can result in stress and anxiety and increase withdrawal and solitude. This isolation is related to unfavorable physical and mental consequences especially in older people. The good news: Social engagement will induce less anxiety with treatment for hearing impairment and this will lead to less depression. Research from the National Council on Aging revealed that individuals with hearing difficulty who have hearing aids report fewer symptoms related to depression and anxiety and more frequently engage in social pursuits.

How You Can Help

Talk! Keep the conversation about hearing loss going with your loved one. This can help you determine the amount of hearing loss by supplying a second pair of ears and it also furthers mental engagement. People over the age of 70 with hearing impairment tend to under-report it, though the reasons why are presently disputed. Secondly, motivate your friend or family member to have a consultation with us. Having your hearing checked regularly can help you learn how your hearing is changing and can establish a baseline of your current hearing impairment.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.