Better Hearing and Speech Month: Why some seniors lose their hearing
Have you or a loved one had a lifetime full of exposure to loud noises? You’re not alone. Hearing loss is one of the most common conditions affecting older adults. May is Better Hearing and Speech Month making it a great time to talk to your senior loved ones about hearing loss. According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communications Disorders, roughly one-third of Americans 65 to 74 years of age, and nearly half of those 75 years and older, struggle with hearing loss.
Second to only high blood pressure and arthritis, hearing loss is the most common chronic condition affecting seniors’ health. People with hearing loss can find it difficult to communicate with family and friends. They may also have problems hearing doorbells and alarms, responding to warnings, and hearing their doctor’s advice.
What causes hearing loss?
Seniors are at risk of two general categories of hearing loss. The most common type of hearing loss in seniors is presbycusis, or age-related hearing loss. This is a gradual loss of hearing that affects both ears. It occurs when tiny hairs in the ear, which convert sound wave into sound, become damaged.
The other type of hearing loss experienced by seniors is tinnitus, or ringing in the ears. It can be permanent or temporary, but is directly linked to exposure to loud sounds. Seniors who served in wars or worked much of their careers in noisy factories are extremely susceptible to hearing loss caused by tinnitus.
Risk factors related to hearing loss
Exposure to loud noises like firecrackers, music, motorcycles, or weapons can cause hearing loss in seniors, but other risk factors for seniors include:
- high blood pressure, tumors, or stroke
Hearing loss also tends to run in families. If your parents or grandparents were or are hard of hearing, it’s important to get your hearing checked as you age.
Symptoms and treatment options
If hearing loss goes untreated or ignored, it can get worse over time. However, hearing loss that’s identified early can be helped through treatment. Ask yourself or your loved one these questions:
- Do you have trouble hearing conversations on the telephone?
- Do you often ask people to repeat themselves?
- Do your guests ever complain the TV volume is too high?
If you or your loved one answered yes to any of these questions, there may be a hearing problem and you should consult a doctor or hearing specialist. Some seniors may have hearing loss and don’t even realize it.
Though you can’t always fully prevent hearing loss, you can take steps to minimize or address it. There is no known cure for age-related hearing loss, but treatment will focus on improving your ability to continue to hear the moments that matter most.
For Better Hearing and Speech Month, educate yourself on some of the most common treatment options:
- Hearing aids: They may be one recommendation from your doctor or an audiologist. They can be beneficial for seniors as they allow the user to increase and decrease the sound of voices and background noises.
- Assistive listening device: This option allows sound to be amplified for the user. Sound from telephones, TVs, and radios are captured by the device, allowing for better hearing.
- Surgery: Surgery may be another consideration. Cochlear implants are medical devices with one part implanted in the skin and the second part is worn behind the ear. Cochlear implants will not restore normal hearing, but provide a louder and clearer option.
At Holiday Retirement, the health of our residents is a priority. That’s why for Better Hearing and Speech Month we encourage communities to talk to residents about hearing loss prevention and care. Our residents know they’re experiencing something special here they couldn’t enjoy anywhere else. From exceptional, fresh and healthy meals to a full calendar of life-enriching programs and activities, life at Holiday Retirement’s senior living communities is everything most seniors dreamed their retirement would be.
Interested in hearing more about the benefits of living in a retirement community? Discover one of Holiday Retirement’s independent senior living communities near you or a loved one today.