It is no secret that as we age, changes occur in our body. Certain aspects might slow down or not function as sharply as before. This can be our reflexes or immune system, or even our vision and hearing. While this can be a scary scenario to face, it is important to know what this looks like. Today, we will be diving deeper into hearing loss, and just how it can affect residents of assisted living facilities in Macomb.
Did you know that one in every two Americans aged 65 years and older suffer from age-related hearing loss? While the severity can vary on a case by case basis, it is an extremely common occurrence. While it is not life threatening, it can drastically affect one’s quality of life if it goes untreated.
Hearing Loss Causes
So, what causes hearing loss? Actually, there are many culprits that cause hearing loss. Typically, it occurs gradually over time and points back to inner ear conditions. These might include one of the following:
- Changes to the structure of the inner ear
- Blood flow to the ear cut off or changed
- Damage to the nerves located in the ear that is responsible for hearing
- Neurological changes to the way the brain processes information, such as speech and sound
- Damage or impairment to the tiny hairs in the ear that work to transmit sound
There are also some medical conditions that can lead to compromised hearing. These could include
- Poor circulation
- Prolonged exposure to loud noises (such as construction work / factory / musician)
- Side effects of certain medications
- Genetic predisposition to hearing loss / family genetics
Signs and Symptoms of Age-Related Hearing Los
Being aware of the signs and symptoms can help you catch age-related hearing loss sooner. This will help you get the doctor quicker to find a solution. While not every issue can be cured, the sooner you figure out what’s going on, the quicker you will be able to lessen the impact that it might have.
Starting off, issues with age-related hearing loss typically begin with the inability to hear high pitched sounds. You might start to notice that you are having trouble hearing women or children speak clearly. Certain instruments in music or chimes from particular devices become more difficult to hear. Background noise or soft ambient noise may go completely unnoticed.
While this might be a standard starting point, there are some other signs and symptoms to be aware of:
- Some sounds might seem particularly sharp or loud
- Trouble hearing in crowded or noisy environments, such as shopping centers, sporting events, or music concerts
- The s’ or ‘th’ sounds become difficult to differentiate
- Tinnitus or ringing in the ears
- Constantly having to turn up the volume on the TV or radio to hear what it says
- Consistently asking people to repeat themselves
- Difficulty understanding people while talking on the telephone
If you feel that this is you or your senior loved one, take the time to talk to their doctor. If your senior is a resident at one of the assisted living facilities in Macomb, talk to the staff and see if they have noticed any changes as well. This can help come up with conclusive information to present to a physician at their next visit.
Only a medical doctor can diagnose what is exactly going on with your hearing loss. Whether it be typical, age-related hearing loss or something deeper and connected to a medical issue, a doctor will complete the necessary exams to make this determination. This includes getting your ears checked out with an otoscope.
If they can’t find any immediate issues or cause for concern, it will likely be ruled as age-related hearing loss, which occurs over time. You may even be referred to see an audiologist who can help to determine just how severe your hearing loss is.
While there is no cure for age-related hearing loss, nor can it be reversed, it can still be treated. You can work with your doctor to come up with a treatment plan that works best for you. A few things that they might recommend:
- Hearing aids to improve hearing quality
- Assisted devices, such as telephone amplifiers
- For severe hearing loss, lessons in sign language or lip reading
For some cases, doctors might even recommend getting what is called a cochlear implant. This entails getting a small electronic device surgically implanted into your ear. This is really only an option for those who are severely hard of hearing.
Quality of Life
Unfortunately, with most hearing loss scenarios, they progressively get worse. However, the sooner you catch it, the better you can improve your quality of life and slow the progression somewhat. Using assisted technology and hearing devices will help to dramatically improve your outlook and just how well you can hear.
When you are speaking with your doctor, come up with a personalized treatment plan. Be sure to also ask about how to handle topics such as isolation, depression, and anxiety, as these can all be a side effect of hearing loss. Remember – each person is different, and only a conversation with your doctor can help.
While you cannot go back and undo the damage that was done to your hearing, you can still try your best to keep it from getting worse. If you are currently experiencing age-related hearing loss, try checking out some of these great tips:
- While you might be a huge rock and roll fan, it might be time to stop attending live concerts. Continued, prolonged exposure to these sorts of loud sounds can make hearing even worse.
- If you must continue to be around the loud noise, such as while at work, make sure to protect your ears by wearing appropriate ear protection, such as noise-canceling headphones.
- If you have diabetes, make sure to stay on top of your blood sugar.
If you think that you might be experiencing age-related hearing loss, it is important to let someone know as soon as possible. Whether this be your caregiver, doctor, or one of the helpful staff members at the assisted living facilities in Macomb, don’t just let it go by the wayside!