Does an elder in your life have hearing loss? Chances are high, as one in three 65 and older suffer from the condition and the number jumps to half of all people 75 years and older. Age related hearing loss, also known as presbycusis is common, and while it can’t be reversed it can be treated using hearing aids. However, of those who could benefit from this life enhancing treatment, 70 years and above, only around 30 percent have ever tried them. Helping your loved one find the care and treatment they need is essential in enhancing their quality of life as they age. Here are just some of the ways that addressing hearing loss can improve the quality of life for your aging loved ones.
Hearing loss is a communication issue and as it sets in slowly, you’ll feel the strain more and more in your everyday social interactions. Over time this can build up into serious rifts in your relationships between friends, family members, acquaintances and even those closest to you such as your significant other. Intimacy is essential to our self-esteem as we age, and these rifts will quickly erode the frequency of tenderness which is common when both people feel supported in a relationship. Your communication will become strained as you struggle to hear the people on the other end misunderstand your disability as you not being interested in what they are saying or not paying attention. The good news is that for older adults who invest in hearing aids, the people in their life are easier to hear. It may take time to rebuild intimacy and closeness in relationships but with regular use of hearing loss and dedication you’ll find you’ll be able to connect more with your loved one.
The Impact on Medical Care and Untreated Hearing Loss
Not only will enhanced communication improve how you talk to the people in your life but for seniors with hearing loss, there is a common impact on their care when they have medical complications. It’s an inevitable part of aging and thank goodness for modern medicine. Still, a recent study from New York University’s Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service found that those with hearing loss have a greater rate of readmission to hospitals than the general population. Based on data from the Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey, a national survey (MCBS) of 4,436 people, 65 and older, they looked at hospitalization records between 2010 and 2013. Of those with hearing loss they reported at least a 12% disadvantage when speaking to doctors and medical personnel.
However, even more alarming was a 32 percent chance of readmission to the hospital within a month of being discharged, most likely due to issues hearing doctors’ instructions and being able to follow them at home.
Improved Cognitive Health with Hearing Aids
In addition to stronger relationships, those who treat their hearing loss are more socially active and outgoing, challenging their mind and being more likely to try new things. This can translate into improved cognitive health, which is essential, especially for those 65 and beyond where the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia increases significantly. Hearing loss occurs due to a lack of sound information being able to reach the brain and this means the brain must work harder to follow speech, leading to cognitive strain. Meanwhile parts of the brain that are no longer being stimulated due to the loss of sounds can wither and die causing brain shrinkage. The combination of lack of socialization, shrinkage and fatigue increases the risk of dementia, a serious and irreversible condition.
Committing to Hearing Aids
It can be difficult to get used to hearing aids so give your loved one time. At first they haven’t heard may sound jarring and strange. Even the sound of their own voice may sound too loud. It’s all too common for people to give up before they take the chance and find out how amazing hearing aids can be to enhance life. After a year of use, a recent survey reported 91 percent satisfaction with hearing aids. Encourage your loved one to stay with it for their health. These years are precious, and this is a great time to celebrate with good health and communication. Start by contacting us today to find out what we can do for the older adults in your life.