Hearing Loss Affects Everyday Life - May Increase Risk of Dementia - What Can You Do for You or a Loved One?

Do you, or a loved one, say, "can you say that again?" Maybe you just shake your head in agreement despite not hearing what is being said. Hearing problems can even lead to dementia.

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Hearing Loss Affects Everyday Life - May Increase Risk of Dementia - What Can You Do for You or a Loved One?
4 Min Read December 3rd, 2021

We take hearing for granted, but several studies indicate that adults with some hearing loss increase their risk of developing dementia than those who have normal hearing. Research from Johns Hopkins reports hearing loss is also linked with problems with walking and balance, leading to a higher risk of falls. There are other problems associated with the gradual loss of hearing as we get older, including depression. 

Hearing loss affects almost one-third of adults ages 61 to 70 and more than 80 percent of those older than 85. The leading cause of adult-onset hearing loss is the consequences of aging on our auditory system. 

However, other factors cause problems with hearing in addition to age. These factors include chronic diseases like diabetes and chronic kidney disease. Our genetics and exposure to loud noise over our lifetime will also contribute to decreased hearing and tendinitis. 

Although there are dozens of painful, frustrating ways hearing loss can affect your everyday life, there are three that many find the most common and troubling. Do not ignore signs of hearing loss, as it is vital to your well-being that you take care of your hearing before it becomes a problem.

Withdrawal From Society

People who have some hearing loss find it frustrating in everyday conversation. They often decide between asking someone to repeat themselves repeatedly or accepting that they will never hear what the person has to say. Sometimes they just shake their heads in agreement despite not hearing the conversation. In some situations, a person may make comments that have nothing to do with the conversation as they have not heard or misheard what was being said. These are the social pressures those with hearing problems must struggle with daily.

Some people who have problems with hearing will find it easier to isolate themselves instead of being left out of a conversation they are finding hard to hear. Since people with hearing loss may feel unable to communicate, they often separate themselves from other people, leading to depression.

Inability To Enjoy Entertainment

When you have trouble hearing, it can be incredibly upsetting to slowly see yourself unable to enjoy a trip to the theater or their favorite television shows. 

When watching TV, they turn the volume way up to follow the dialog. People with hearing difficulties either need to learn how to watch TV without disturbing others or find other sources of entertainment.

Do not let your hearing loss stop you or a loved one from enjoying the small pleasures in life. Enjoying conversation with friends and family is essential, especially as you get older. Isolation is not good for people.

Career Troubles

More people are working past retirement age, either because they need to or because they enjoy their careers. However, problems with your hearing can wreak havoc on your career.

People who have trouble hearing struggle to communicate in an office setting just like they do in social spaces. The inability to effectively communicate with their customers and colleagues will affect their ability to perform the job.

People struggling with poor hearing must put in extra effort at work just to tune out the sounds in the background. You can see how this can cause problems in meetings, when speaking to a supervisor, or when handling a customer.

What Can Be Done About Hearing?

First, taking care of your hearing when you are young will help you as you get older. But what happens after living life and listening to all that loud rock n roll in your younger years? Is there a way to improve hearing after you have had some loss?

There are several ways to address hearing loss, and the treatment will be dependent on the severity of your hearing loss and the cause. Perhaps the most popular option treatment is hearing aids.

Hearing aids are expensive and are generally not covered by health insurance (some will, depending on the plan). For those age 65 and older, Medicare will not cover the costs of hearing aids for adults. However, the diagnostic evaluations will be covered if ordered by your doctor to assist the physician in developing a treatment plan.

There is a wide variety of hearing aids, but other options can be used. Discuss any hearing problem with your doctor, who will often send you to an Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist first to rule out other health problems and make recommendations.  

Is it Dementia or a Hearing Problem?

For older people, be sure they address hearing problems. Remember, older people often deny they have a problem hearing; instead, they may just withdraw. 

Sometimes an older person will be diagnosed with dementia when the real problem is hearing loss. While hearing loss may affect an individual's brain structure in a way that contributes to cognitive decline, on occasion, there is no problem with a person's memory - just their ears.

Be sure the doctor has conducted hearing tests before determining if an older family member has dementia. 

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About the Author

Mallory Knee is a freelance writer for multiple online publications where she can showcase her affinity for all things beauty and fashion. She particularly enjoys writing for communities of passionate women who come together for a shared interest and empower one another in the process. In her free time, you can find Mallory trying a fun new dinner recipe, practicing calligraphy, or hanging out with her family.

LTC News Contributor Mallory Knee

Mallory Knee

Contributor since September 25th, 2020

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