COVID-19 Notice

Our practice locations are NOW OPEN! We are taking every step possible to ensure the health and safety of our patients and staff throughout the current COVID-19 outbreak. We are continuously monitoring the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and following the guidelines from this agency and our local health departments. Click here to see the steps that we are taking to ensure a safe environment for our staff and patients.

Hearing Loss: A Common Problem for Older Adults

an older couple with hearing loss

According to statistics from the National Institute of Aging, a third of people aged between 65-74 experience hearing loss in the US. This figure rises to almost 50% people over 75. Hearing loss is a common problem for older adults, but there are solutions out there. If you’re worried about your hearing or you’re keen to learn more about hearing loss, this informative guide should prove useful.

Signs of hearing loss

Hearing loss tends to be gradual, and as a result, it can take time to notice a real difference in your hearing. Signs to look out for include:

  • Turning the volume up on the TV or radio, with levels steadily increasing
  • Asking people to repeat themselves in face to face or telephone conversations
  • Missing sections of discussions or mishearing sentences or words
  • Finding it difficult to keep up in meetings or conversations with friends or family members
  • Having to concentrate harder to hear, especially when there is background noise
  • Thinking that other people are mumbling or talking quietly
  • Other people remarking that your TV is very loud

What causes hearing loss in older people?

There are many possible causes of hearing loss, but for most seniors, hearing loss is linked to the natural aging process. Age-related hearing loss, also known as presbycusis, occurs gradually as you get older and it tends to affect both ears. Hearing loss results from changes inside the inner ear and the auditory nerve. If you’ve been exposed to loud noises in your lifetime, for example, you worked in construction, or you played in a band, you may find that you experience more severe hearing loss or that your hearing starts to deteriorate earlier. This is due to damage to the delicate structures of the inner ear. 

In some cases, health conditions that are more common in seniors can increase the risk of hearing loss, for example, type two diabetes and high blood pressure. 

Hearing loss in older people can also be linked to tinnitus. Hearing loss often exacerbates symptoms of tinnitus because the ringing and buzzing sounds appear louder as a result of not being able to hear other noises. If you do have hearing loss, using hearing aids can help to alleviate tinnitus symptoms by filling the void and enabling you to concentrate on external sounds. 

How do I know if I have hearing problems?

In many cases of hearing loss in older people, changes are gradual, and it can take time for symptoms and signs to become apparent. This is why regular hearing tests are recommended. If you have concerns about your hearing, or you’ve started to spot signs that your hearing might be deteriorating, it’s best to arrange an appointment with an hearing instrument specialist. The sooner signs can be identified and addressed, the better. Your hearing instrument specialist will conduct assessments to see how well you can hear and determine whether treatment options would be beneficial for you. 

What can be done for hearing loss in older people?

If you experience hearing loss, and you’re finding it increasingly difficult to hear, your hearing instrument specialist may recommend using hearing aids. Hearing aids are small, compact devices, which are fitted either inside or behind the ears to help you hear better. Hearing aids capture, amplify and process sounds, and they can have an amazing impact on quality of life and confidence. If you do choose to have hearing aids, your hearing instrument specialist will show you different types and styles and explain how they work. Some types of hearing aid might be more suitable for you than others, depending on the extent of hearing loss and the findings of your hearing assessment. The next step is to arrange a hearing aid fitting, which involves your hearing instrument specialist fitting your hearing aids and adjusting and modifying the settings to ensure they’re perfect for you. In cases where individuals have tinnitus and hearing loss, hearing aids with masking features may be recommended. Wearing hearing aids can have multiple benefits for older people, including improved communication skills and confidence, greater independence, enhanced safety and a better quality of life. 

Do you have questions about hearing loss, or has it been a while since you last had your hearing tested? If so, why not contact us today and organize an appointment? We can provide you with more information about the hearing services we offer and answer any questions you have about hearing aids or hearing assessments. Call Mountain Ear Hearing Associates today at Black Mountain: 828-827-0510, Franklin: 828-827-0514, Morganton: 828-827-0509, Conover: 828-827-0528, Highlands: 828-827-0515, Rutherfordton: 828-827-0492 or Waynesville: 828-827-0517.