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Untreated hearing loss can have a serious impact on healthy senior living

October 11, 2013

Hearing loss is a common issue facing the senior population and it's one that can cause significant problems. An estimated one-third of Americans between 65 and 74 have auditory issues, according to the National Institute on Aging, while approximately half of those over 85 have some form of hearing loss. Such problems can have a wide variety of adverse effects outside of making it difficult for seniors to understand other people, and according to researchers at Michigan State University Extension, there are some steps older adults and caregivers can take to reduce the impact of hearing loss.

Far-reaching impact
Mental health issues are some of the biggest impacts hearing loss can have on senior living. For instance, if older adults encounter issues communicating with other people, they may begin to slowly withdraw from social interaction and engagement. As a result of this isolation, their feelings of loneliness might increase, which heightens their risk of experiencing symptoms of depression. A recent study conducted by The National Council on Aging shed light on just how significant this impact can be. 

"This survey is groundbreaking not only in the large size of the sample but also in the inclusion of 2,090 close family members or friends of the hearing-impaired respondents who were asked a parallel set of questions," said Dr. Carolyn Holmes, of the Seniors Research Group. 

Take action
Seniors and their caregivers need to take proactive steps to reduce the impact of hearing loss, and the first part of the process is recognizing the signs that something is wrong. According to MSU, some of the most common indicators of hearing loss include difficulty talking on the phone, trouble following conversations and issues caused by interference from background noise. If seniors do encounter hearing loss, they are not without options. In addition to informing people of their difficulties, seniors may want to ask doctors about the possibility of hearing aides as a treatment option.

Research has shown that seniors who make use of hearing aides often enjoy improved quality of life, according to the NCOA. For instance, 36 percent of respondents reported that they saw improvements to their mental health while approximately 34 percent enjoyed a boost to their social lives.