Another extract from our The Senior’s Choice Connection, summer newsletter. This discussion is on dealing with hearing loss as you or your elderly family member age. Hearing loss is reported as one of the most common conditions affecting older adults. A third of American, ages 65 to 74, and 50% of those 75 and older suffer from some type of hearing loss.
There are multiple types of hearing loss, and two general categories of hearing loss: sensorineural hearing loss and conductive hearing loss. The sensorineural hearing loss occurs when there is damage to the inner ear or auditory nerve. This is a permanent type of hearing loss. Conductive hearing loss, occurs when earwax builds up, fluid builds up, or an eardrum is punctured. Medical or surgical treatment can usually restore conductive hearing loss.
Many adults do not want to admit they are having trouble hearing. When older adults cannot hear well, it may lead to them acting depressed or withdrawing from others to avoid feeling frustrated or embarrassed about not understanding what is being said. Instead of identifying it as hearing loss, a caregiver may assume older people are simply confused, unresponsive, or uncooperative.
To identify symptoms, caregivers or an older person can ask themselves these key questions:
- Do I have trouble hearing when there is noise in the background?
- Is it hard for me to follow a conversation when two or more people talk at once?
- Do many people I talk to seem to mumbler or not speak clearly?
- Do I misunderstand what others are saying and respond inappropriately?
- Do I often ask people to repeat themselves?
- Do some sounds seems too loud?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, preferably three or more, you (or your patient/family member) might want to have your hearing checked by your doctor. Your doctor may refer you to an otolaryngologist. This specialist and surgeon has special training in problems of the ear, nose , throat, head, and neck. Or your doctor may refer you to an audiologist. An audiologist can identify and measure your hearing loss.
The most common treatment for hearing loss is receiving a hearing aid. A hearing aid is an electronic, battery-operated device that enhances sounds for the wearer. If your hearing loss is severe and of a certain type, your doctor may suggest that you talk to a specialist about a cochlear implant. A cochlear implant does not restore or create normal hearing.. Instead, it can help people who have a severe hearing loss be more aware of their surrounds and understand speech.
–By Caren Parnes, For The Senior’s Choice.