Hearing Loss & Seniors
The Untold Struggles of Communication
Imagine not hearing the menu specials when your out to eat with your friends or not hearing your doctor explain vital information about your prescriptions. How would you feel and how would it affect your life? These are the struggles seniors with hearing loss face every single day. While age-related hearing loss is common for people over the age of 60, society seems to ignore this communication burden and in turn, leave many seniors feeling isolated and depressed.
A lot of seniors do not think that their hearing is bad enough to get hearing aids, most are denial about their hearing loss and commonly claim that people are mumbling their words or the store they are in is too loud. Socializing for seniors is especially important as it staves off cognitive decline and keeps seniors active in their relationships with family and friends.
Common Signs of Hearing Loss
- ○ Turning up the volume on the television or radio
- ○ Difficulty following conversations over the phone
- ○ Certain sounds may seem overly loud while daily sounds could disappear
- ○ Asking people to repeat themselves
- ○ Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
Emotional Impact of Hearing Loss for Seniors
Struggling to Maintain Normalcy
Over 50% of people over the age of 60 experience a decline in their hearing and a majority of them do not seek treatment. In fact, 1 out of 6 seniors do not inform their doctor or get hearing aids. It’s an underlying epidemic–seniors are either embarrassed about their hearing loss or unaware of it; on top of that, only 14% of doctors make hearing loss screenings a regular part of their physical exams. It is a communication epidemic between the young and the old and it affects everything from relationships to daily safety and security. For loved ones, they may be busy with their everyday lives to notice that a decline in hearing is affecting their loved one both emotionally and physically.
Feeling left out is a common emotion for seniors who have age-related hearing loss, it can almost seem like you’re cut off from the world and no one is listening to you. Over time, the loss of their hearing can take a toll on their body and mind. Common problems that stem from the loss of hearing can have long-term effects on people.
Negative Effects of Hearing Loss
- ○ Depression
- ○ Anxiety
- ○ Withdrawal from social life
- ○ Loneliness
- ○ Anger
- ○ Cognitive decline
- ○ Decrease in personal safety
- ○ Poor overall health
What to Do
Coping with Hearing Loss
If you or someone you know has trouble hearing there a few things you can do to help ease the burden of hearing impairment and improve communication. First off, be patient. Remember that age-related hearing loss is common and it affects seniors both emotionally and physically— give them time to understand what you’re saying. (Studies show that talking in a lower tone allows seniors to hear what you’re saying much better than shouting!)
Find shortcuts for communicating, many seniors have mobile phones with large text for easy reading–you can text a senior so they are prepared for your conversation with them ahead of time. Lastly, let someone you know who has hearing loss that it is okay to ask to repeat something. Making seniors with hearing loss feel comfortable and included is crucial in staving off cognitive decline and social withdrawal. Remember also to do frequent hearing checks and that hearing aids are a real solution to hearing loss, unlike coping strategies that don’t address the real problem.
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