You Should Monitor Your Aunt’s Hearing, This Is Why

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

You expect certain things as your loved ones grow older: Hair changing colors, needing glasses, stories about “When I was your age”. Hearing loss is another change that we connect with aging. 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 inside of the ear (some forms of chemotherapy, for example, have this side effect), or merely changes to the inner ear.

But just because an older friend or relative’s hearing loss isn’t a surprise doesn’t mean it’s something you can disregard. Particularly because age-related hearing problems can be elusive, it takes place gradually and over time, not abruptly and dramatically, you might work around it by just speaking more clearly or turning up the TV. So you should take hearing impairment seriously and have a talk with your loved one and here are four reasons why.

1. Hearing Issues Can Create Unnecessary Hazards

In a large building, smoke or fire alarms have a visual aspect (typically a flashing light) along with being extremely loud, but the majority of residential alarms don’t. Individuals who suffer from hearing loss can lose other less extreme day-to-day cues also: A phone call, a doorbell, or a car horn (which can also be hazardous). Minor inconveniences or even major dangers can be the outcome of reduced hearing.

2. Hearing impairment Has Been connected to an Increased Risk of Cognitive Issues

There is a statistically significant connection between age related hearing impairment and cognitive decline as reported by a large meta-study. The process is debated, but the most common 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 experience hearing loss, our brains work so much harder to absorb and understand sounds that other cognitive activities get less resources.

3. Hearing Loss Can be Costly

If your family member is worried that treating hearing problems could be costly, here’s a strong counter-argument: Neglected hearing loss can impact your finances for numerous reasons. For instance, people 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 proposed that individuals who suffer with hearing loss might avoid preventative care because of trouble communicating and thus end up with a large bill because a major health issue wasn’t caught earlier. Hearing loss is also connected to mental decline and numerous health problems, as other individuals have pointed out. And if all that’s not enough think about this: Your paycheck could be immediately impacted, 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 Loss

Difficulty hearing can have emotional and mental health consequences, too. The stress and anxiety of not being able to hear others clearly will frequently cause detachment and solitude. This isolation is connected to unfavorable physical and mental repercussions particularly in older people. The good news: Dealing with hearing loss can potentially help reduce depression, partly because being able to hear makes social engagement less anxious. Research from the National Council on Aging found that people with hearing problems who have hearing aids report reduced symptoms related to depression and anxiety and more frequently engage in social pursuits.

How You Can Help

Talk! We mean yes, talk to your loved one about hearing loss, and keep the conversation moving. This can help with mental engagement, and it can also help supply a second pair of ears (literally) assessing hearing. Although the reasons are debated, research has demonstrated that people over 70 under-report hearing impairment. Secondly, motivate your friend or relative to have a consultation with us. Regular, professional hearing exams are essential for establishing a baseline and learning how their hearing might be changing.

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.