You Should Watch Your Aunt’s Hearing, Here’s Why

Woman communicating with her hands as she struggles to hear conversation.

You expect certain things as your loved ones get older: Gray hair, the need for bifocals, stories about “When I was your age”. Another change commonly connected with aging is hearing loss. There are numerous reasons why this occurs: Exposure to loud sounds (whether job-related or from going to rock concerts when younger), medications that cause harm to structures within the ear (some forms of chemotherapy, for instance, have this side effect), or simply changes to the inner ear.

But just because an older friend or relative’s hearing impairment isn’t a surprise doesn’t mean it’s something you can dismiss. This is particularly true because you could simply start to talk louder to compensate for the progressive hearing loss your loved one is developing. So you should be serious about hearing impairment and speak with your loved one and here are four reasons why.

1. Needless Hazard is Caused by Hearing Loss

In a smaller house, smoke and fire alarms don’t usually have the flashing lights and other visual aspects that they have in a larger building. Fire is a drastic illustration, but hearing loss can cause sufferers to miss other day-to-day cues: Receiving a phone call, a delivery person ringing the doorbell, or (and yes, we’re back in potentially really hazardous territory here) car horns. Minor inconveniences or even major dangers can be the outcome of decreased hearing.

2. There Can be an Increase in Cognitive Decline With Hearing Loss

There is a statistically substantial link between age related hearing loss and cognitive decline according to a large meta-study. The mechanism is debated, but the most prevalent theory is that when people have difficulty hearing, they withdraw socially, lowering their overall level of engagement and failing to “exercise” their brains. However, some researchers argue that when we suffer from hearing loss, our brains work so much harder to absorb and comprehend sounds that other cognitive activities get less resources.

3. The High Price of Hearing Loss

If your loved one is worried that treating hearing issues could be expensive, here’s a solid counter-argument: Neglected hearing loss can impact your finances for many reasons. For instance, individuals who have ignored hearing loss had, on average, a 33% higher medical cost, according to a 2016 study. Why? One of the study’s writers speculated that people with hearing loss might avoid preventative care due to difficulty communicating and thus wind up with a large bill because a major health problem wasn’t noticed sooner. Others point out that hearing loss is connected to other health problems such as cognitive decline. Another point to think about: Your paycheck could be immediately affected, if you haven’t already retired, because of a decline in productivity caused by hearing loss.

4. There’s a Connection Between Depression And Hearing Impairment

There can also bo be mental and emotional health repercussions that come with hearing troubles. The inability to hear people clearly can lead to anxiety and stress and increase detachment and isolation. This isolation is related to unfavorable physical and mental outcomes particularly in the elderly. The good news: Social interaction will provoke less anxiety with treatment for hearing loss and this will result in less depression. A study from the National Council on Aging revealed that people with hearing problems who have hearing aids report fewer symptoms connected with anxiety and depression and more frequently engage in social pursuits.

How to do Your Part

Talk! Keep the conversation about hearing loss going with your family member. This can help you determine the amount of hearing loss by providing a second set of ears and it also furthers mental engagement. People over the age of 70 with hearing impairment commonly under-report it, though the reasons why are currently disputed. The next move is to encourage the person with hearing loss to schedule an appointment with us. Having your hearing assessed regularly can help you learn how your hearing is changing and can establish a baseline of your current hearing impairment.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.