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Hearing Loss Signs, Impact and Solutions

Hearing loss is one of the most common conditions among older adults, affecting 1 in 3 people over the age of 65. Since it is usually gradual, it can often go undetected and significantly impact a person’s well-being. Discussing concerns with a medical professional is an important first step in identifying solutions. 

 

Signs of Hearing Loss

  • Asking people to repeat what they are saying

  • Thinking that others are mumbling

  • Trouble hearing while using the telephone

  • Difficulty hearing when there is background noise 

  • Difficulty following conversations when two or more people are talking

  • Understanding male voices more than those of women or children

  • Increasing the volume of the TV to the point where others complain

 

Screening for Hearing Loss

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association recommends screening by an audiologist every 3 years after age 50, or more frequently for those with known exposures or risk factors. 

  • Audiologists can assist in preventing, diagnosing, and treating hearing disorders and can prescribe and fit the appropriate hearing aid for an individual. Find an Audiologist

  • Self-administered tests, like  hearWHO or Mimi, also screen an individual's hearing but cannot identify the cause of hearing loss

 

Impacts of Hearing Loss

The impacts of hearing loss are profound and go beyond missing out on what is being said.

  • Isolation - some people feel anxious about mishearing others or misunderstanding what is being said or choose not to ask someone to repeat themselves. As a result, they may limit social interactions with others. 

  • Cognition - processing sounds assists in keeping the brain active. Hearing loss can lead to declines in cognition and difficulty in thinking and concentrating.  Hearing aids can reduce the rate of cognitive decline. 

  • Balance - hearing loss can also affect balance leading to increased falls and decreased physical activity. 

  • Emotional Well-Being - frustration, anger, depression, shame, and lack of confidence are all emotions that may result from hearing loss.

 

Hearing Aids and Assistive Devices

Hearing aids and assistive devices can have a significant impact on people’s quality of life. Medicare does not cover hearing aids. However, the VA provides coverage for hearing aids, batteries, accessories, and repairs, and Medicaid covers the cost of hearing aids and some assistive technology.

 

Communicating with Someone with Hearing Loss

  1. Try to speak in a well-lit quiet place without background noise

  2. Speak directly to the person and maintain eye contact

  3. Speak at a volume slightly higher than normal but do not yell 

  4. Speak a little slower than usual

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