As the US population ages, hearing loss in seniors is expected to spike
Many seniors lose their hearing as they age; it’s a condition called presbycusis. Currently, doctors and other researchers aren’t sure why this condition affects some more than others. However, presbycusis does tend to run in the family. Exposure to loud noises is the other big cause of hearing loss.
Hearing loss research: even younger people’s hearing is getting worse
By 2020 it’s predicted that 15% of U.S. adults (44 million people) will have some form of hearing loss. By 2060, that number—for people 20 and over—will reach 23%.
These numbers have put extra pressure on researchers to find an affordable approach to help patients. Because, you see, Medicare doesn’t cover hearing aids, and these little devices can cost thousands of dollars. Which means seniors either have to find ways of paying the full cost or find an insurance agency that will pay part of it.
Hearing loss is only part of the problem
Senior advocates are worried about more than just the cost. In fact, cost is something that can—over time—be solved. What’s worrying senior advocates are the health and lifestyle problems hearing can cause.
For example, hearing loss can affect a person’s ability—and their interest—to engage in social activities. It’s embarrassing not being able to hear the people around you, and not knowing how loud you are talking can also be a source of embarrassment.
Hearing loss can, according to the American Academy of Audiology, lead to:
- Mental decline
Yet another problem is hearing loss is insidious—it’s slow, and once it starts happening it’s irreversible. It is highly recommended, by hearing specialists, that all seniors over 55 have their hearing tested.
How family can help make hearing easier
Here are 4 things seniors can do with their family to make hearing a little easier:
- Tell your family, and your friends, about your hearing loss. If they know you’re having trouble hearing, they can start to help you.
- Ask family, and friends, to face you when speaking. Seeing their faces move and the expressions the make may help you to understand them better.
- Ask people to speak louder—not shout. Just speak a little louder. And not to speak slowly, it’s more about speaking louder and clearly than anything else.
- If you aren’t actively listening to the TV or radio turn them off.
Woking with family, and friends, can help seniors live with bad hearing. At first, it will difficult to adjust for everyone. But remember—it’s hardest on those who are losing their hearing. Imagine their frustration: they know their hearing is going, and there’s not a great deal they can do about.
They can get hearing aids, or hearing implants, but the understanding and help from family will make them feel much better about themselves and their situation.
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