It is estimated that nearly two-thirds of adults over the age of 65 have significant hearing loss. Past the age of 70, the likelihood of significant hearing loss reaches 83 percent. Increasingly, researchers are discovering that these hearing loss sufferers aren’t just hearing poorly, they may also be experiencing a wide range of other related symptoms. These symptoms include: feelings of isolation and depression, physical fatigue, reduced mobility, and cognitive decline. Fortunately, researchers have also discovered that using hearing aids may be a solution to many of these problems.
The following is a summation of the latest research
A study at Johns Hopkins by Dr. Frank Lin reported that people with untreated hearing loss are 200%-500% greater at risk of developing dementia. Even those with mild loss were 200% greater at risk! Avoid dementia and you’re still at increased risk of becoming depressed, feeling isolated and paranoid, and losing your ability to move about freely. An additional study, also completed in 2014, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found significant links between hearing loss and depression. According to Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, hearing loss doubles the likelihood of a man developing depression, while it triples a woman’s chances of developing similarly melancholic feelings.
Researchers are just beginning to discover the ways in which hearing loss can physically impact the rest of the body, but what they’ve found is alarming. In a study by Dr. Frank R. Lin (2014), he observed a correlation between hearing loss and reduced physical mobility in older adults. Women are especially susceptible, as the study found that women with hearing loss experience a 31 percent increase in painful accidents such as unexpected falls, as well as a 31 percent increased need for nursing care compared to women with normal hearing.
With all of this evidence, why do so many older adults wait an average of 7 to 10 years before seeking treatment for their hearing loss? According to a survey conducted by the National Council on the Aging, the majority of adults with untreated hearing loss choose to ignore their hearing damage or deny that it is significant. Twenty percent of untreated hearing loss sufferers cite the stigma of wearing a hearing aid. “A hearing aid would make me look old,” they fear.
While that may have been a concern ten or more years ago, today, even the largest modern hearing devices are almost invisible. And that same survey found that adults who wear hearing aids tend to be more socially and physically active, and less depressed. Survey participants also reported that wearing the hearing device had improved their relationships with family members and friends. A later study finds that hearing aids cause notable cognitive improvement in wearers.
If you’re living with hearing loss, ask your specialist for more information on hearing aids. Regular examinations will prevent your hearing damage from growing worse, and a properly fit hearing aid supported by our team of experienced, caring professionals could drastically improve your life. What are you waiting for?