There are many way in which your fragile and important sense of hearing can be impacted from loud noises, head trauma, genetics and even certain medications, However hearing loss affected by age is by far the most common cause of hearing loss, affecting one in three people by the time they reach 65 years old and half of all people over the age of 75.
Hearing loss is the third most common condition to affect older adults affecting many health aspects, including mental, emotional and physical aspects. Even so only 20% of seniors who could benefit from treatment actually seek help and even then most wait on average 10 years from the time they suspect they have a hearing condition to actually seek help.
Age-Related Hearing Loss
Presbycusis is the technical name for age related hearing loss that is due to the breakdown of the tiny hair cells in the inner ear that transmit sound to the brain to be processed. While hearing loss is technically not a natural part of aging it becomes an issue for most people, due to a lifetime of listening and a breakdown of the cells in the inner ear. When the hairs of the inner ear become damaged, it is referred to as sensorineural hearing loss and is irreversible, leaving seniors with hearing damage that can never be repaired.
Hearing Loss Can Sneak Up
One reason that this type of hearing loss often takes so long to address in seniors is that it can sneak up over time. The hairs of the inner ear can sustain damage slowly, affecting certain tones and pitches at first. You may not notice that certain sounds are unable to be heard for years like the sound of birds outside or the wind in the trees.
Presbycusis can be particularly frustrating to the people in your life who you may slowly struggle to understand as your hearing ability becomes more severe. At first you may not be able to hear certain words, leading to small miscommunications, but as the regularity of these misunderstandings increase it can build to tension, resentment and emotional damage.
Impact of Hearing Loss on Relationships
As hearing loss remains untreated and continues to become more developed tensions can build in the relationships to the people in your life. Relationships with your significant other, your family and friends can become strained. Arguments over the volume of the TV or radio and resentment about misunderstandings can develop into major rifts that can be hard to repair.
For people who are employed, hearing loss can have major impacts in the workplace, as miscommunication starts to erode the confidence of co-workers and employers as important details are regularly missed. It is estimated that Untreated hearing loss can decrease one’s average income by as much as $30,000.
Hearing Loss and Self Esteem
These impacts to relationships can affect a person’s self esteem, leading to anxiety, insomnia and depression. It is exhausting to navigate the world with compromised hearing, leading many to self isolate and skip social events, rather than subject themselves to the struggle of listening.
For seniors, social isolation can lead to brain atrophy due to lack of stimulation, leading to a higher risk of developing dementia sooner. Untreated hearing loss also leads to a lack in mobility, as it is more dangerous to navigate the world with compromised senses. Hearing loss has been found to raise the risk of falls, injuries and hospitalizations.
Benefits of Treatment
While sensorineural hearing loss is irreversible it can be treated rather effectively with hearing aids. Hearing aids amplify the sounds and tones that you specifically struggle with and send them to your inner ear to be sent to your brain. While hearing aids cannot restore your original hearing they can make a very significant impact on the dangers of hearing loss, making it easier for you to understand the people in your life and work and home.
They can amplify media such as TV and radio so you don’t feel inclined to turn up these devices to the point of causing conflict at home and abroad. They can help to amplify sounds around you so you can feel more confident going out, staying active and enjoying the life you love.
If you are putting off dealing with a potential hearing loss, don’t wait another day! Make an appointment today and get back to clear hearing!