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Think about the last time you spent time with people in a large group. Did you find you had to ask people to repeat themselves often, or that you felt like you just couldn’t keep up with the group conversation. This could signal an undiagnosed hearing loss. Hearing loss becomes increasingly more common as we age. One in three people over the age of 65 have hearing loss and this number jumps to half of all people 75 years and older.
If you have hearing loss it most likely can’t be reversed, however it can be treated. Not only is treatment helpful but may be essential for your overall health and quality of life. Untreated hearing loss, a condition which in the past has been understated in it’s effects, is now understood to have far reaching consequences for our emotional, cognitive and physical health. This includes a strain on relationships, chronic depression, feelings of isolation, reduced mobility, cognitive decline, and an increased risk of dementia as well as falls and accidents leading to further hospitalization.
Treating Hearing Loss
The most common treatment for hearing loss are hearing aids- tiny digital devices which sit in or around the ear and are programmed, based on a hearing exam to amplify the tones and frequencies you need to hear. This allows you to connect to the people in your life and feel more confident in navigating the world around you. Even now that the dangerous side effects are being widely received, of those who could benefit from hearing aids, 70 and older, only 30 percent have ever tried them. However hearing loss is a condition which affects people of all ages. Even fewer adults aged 20 to 69 (approximately 16 percent) who could benefit from wearing hearing aids have ever used them. Here are some common excuses as to why people avoid hearing aids and why adhering to them is just plain self-sabotage.
It’s hard to self-diagnose.
Hearing loss can often progress gradually over years, allowing your brain to rationalize and compensate for the loss. You may not realize how many sounds you are missing every day. However, just because you aren’t aware doesn’t mean you are absolved from the far-reaching effects on your health.
The stigma of hearing loss
Many fear that admitting they have an issue with hearing is also admitting that they are growing older or admitting they have a disability. One way to make a health issue worse and the side effects worse is to avoid it. When hearing loss goes unaddressed, it’s likely you’ll seem confused, disinterested, or distracted during conversation. People may not understand that you have a hearing loss and mistake it for rudeness. Accepting and being open about a disability is how we recover and find strength in our perceived weaknesses. When we are open about our hearing loss, we have the power to continue to live while incorporating solutions to thrive even with a hearing loss.
Hearing loss is a normal part of growing older
It’s more common as we age but it’s not inevitable till we reach our mid 90s. Presbycusis, also known as age related hearing loss, is caused by changes in our inner ear—however, these are often caused by other common issues as we age such as cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, diabetes and hypertension. In part, maintaining a healthy diet and staying active can reduce your risk of hearing loss and so many other common issues we face as we age.
Hearing aids are expensive
Hearing aids are an investment in your overall health and well-being. When you consider the cost of not treating a hearing loss you are faced with the emotional impact on your self-esteem and relationships, as well as the physical impact on your general safety and balance. For those who are still working there is the financial impact to consider. Those in the workforce with untreated hearing are noted to earn $30,000 less annually than their counterparts with treated hearing loss or normal hearing. When you look at the numbers, an investment in hearing aids is a much more financial wise investment.
Scheduling a hearing exam
There are different models, payment plans and pricing options that you and your audiologist can discuss as part of your treatment so don’t let the cost hold you back. In truth, it can be much more costly to avoid treating hearing loss. If you suspect you have an issue with your hearing, don’t hesitate to schedule a hearing exam today.