It’s not just about hearing loss…
Did you know that more than 10 million people in the UK are living with hearing loss? This number is likely to go up to 14.5 million by 2031, according to Action on Hearing Loss. Of those 10 million, 6.3 million are over the age of 65. More than 70% of over 70 year-olds have some level of hearing loss.
These worrying statistics point towards how hearing loss can affect us in our later years. Along with hearing loss, many older people also face a host of other issues. Here are some of the common ‘side effects’ of hearing loss, and how you can help.
Our ears contain thousands of tiny hair cells that are responsible for transmitting sound signals to the brain, so that we can hear. Over time, many of these cells deteriorate. These cannot be regenerated and any loss in hearing is permanent.
Deterioration occurs over several years, largely due to continuous exposure to loud noises. This deterioration is known as presbycusis. Presbycusis is age-related hearing loss, and is caused by progressive deterioration of the hair cells due to ageing. High pitched sounds become difficult to discern and speech perception is also affected. Since the decline is gradual, most people may not notice it at all, or may ignore it altogether until a significant number of hair cells have become damaged.
Apart from hearing loss, presbycusis also comes with a few ‘side effects’. Hearing loss has been linked with cognitive decline in the elderly. This can manifest in the form of forgetfulness or mental confusion, even going so far as dementia.
While science is still trying to find the underlying cause for this cognitive decline, it’s possible that social isolation plays some role in this. As their hearing worsens, many elderly people withdraw from their social circles because they feel embarrassed or they find that having a conversation is becoming a chore. Many people avoid going to family get-togethers and also avoid speaking on the phone, as they find group or phone conversations difficult.
A study conducted at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore suggests that wearing hearing aids may actually lessen or arrest the cognitive decline linked to moderate to severe hearing loss. The researchers tested participants on memory, learning and language over a period of 20 years. They found that while cognitive scores declined over the years for people with hearing loss, those who wore hearing aids showed a lesser decline compared to those who didn’t wear hearing aids.
Hearing loss can be managed more effectively if it is detected early. A simple hearing test can give a good idea about the extent of your hearing loss. You can get a free hearing test done at Leightons Opticians and Hearing Care. Our friendly, expert audiologists are on hand to guide you through the entire process. If you prefer, we can also carry out the hearing test in the comfort of your home.
Based on the results of your hearing test, we can advise you on the digital hearing aids that best suit your requirements. Choose from leading brands such as Phonak, Oticon, Widex, Siemens and ReSound. You can also get a free hearing aid demonstration, which will help you understand how your hearing can improve by using digital hearing aids.
Book an appointment online with Leightons Opticians and Hearing Care or call us on 0800 40 20 20.