May is Better Speech and Hearing Month! So we thought we’d talk about one of the most common types of hearing loss we see in our clinic: age-related hearing loss. The following has been adapted from the American Speech and Hearing Association. If you are one of the nearly 10 million Americans over the age of 65, you are likely to have some degree of difficulty hearing. Read on to learn more!
Why do people lose their hearing as they get older?
Hearing loss due to aging is known as presbycusis. It is caused by changes in the entire hearing system, including the inner ear and hearing nerve. These changes can be exacerbated by cumulative effects of noise exposure over your lifetime, hereditary factors, various health conditions, and side of effects of certain medications. In most cases, hearing loss happens slowly over time. It usually happens in both ears and may affect your ability to understand speech.
Why do so many adults with hearing impairment refuse to use hearing aids?
Some people may not admit they are having trouble hearing. Denial is the most important barrier to hearing aid use. The following are the most common excuses that older adults give for not using a hearing aid:
- Everyone is mumbling, or they are not speaking up.
- My hearing is not bad enough for a hearing aid.
- It would make me feel old, or I’m too ashamed to wear one.
- They cost too much.
What happens when you do not treat hearing loss?
People with hearing loss that is not treated are more likely to experience depression and worry compared to those who wear hearing aids. Hearing loss that is not treated may have serious emotional and social effects by:
- isolating them from family members and friends,
- limiting social activities,
- lowering their overall feeling of good health.
What can help someone hear better?
Working together with a qualified audiologist, such as Dr. Swamy, Dr. Larmann, or Dr. Lang, you can evaluate the benefits of hearing aid use and learn to overcome some of the adverse effects that hearing loss can have your quality of life. In addition, here are some tips that you can use for good listening:
- Use appropriate hearing aids and assistive technology.
- Get closer. Don’t try to listen to someone from another room. Go where the talker is.
- Take listening breaks. You can focus better if you are rested.
- Ask the person talking to slow down when he or she is talking too fast.
- Ask the speaker to turn so that you can see his or her face.
- Don’t bluff! Let the speaker know when you are having trouble hearing or understanding.
What can family members do to help?
“When someone has a hearing problem, the whole family has a communication problem.” There are some simple things that family members and friends can do to help carry on a normal conversation:
- Speak clearly and in a normal tone of voice.
- Don’t shout. Shouting just makes it harder for the person with hearing loss to understand.
- Get the person’s attention before speaking.
- Keep your hands away from your mouth.
- Talk in quieter places.
- Build breaks into your conversation.
At Clear Sound Audiology, our patients have the unique opportunity to further learn ways to improve speech understanding and communication, by either attending our Thrive Workshop or by enrolling in our current NIH-sponsored study.
Are ready to experience better hearing? Please call our office today to schedule your complimentary evaluation and consultation. We would be honored to help you on your journey to better hearing.