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Understanding hearing loss during old age

 

Communication is the sole reason why we humans thrive in our day to day life. We are constantly sending, interpreting, and receiving information with people around us and even smartphones. However, hearing loss can severely impact how we interact in our everyday lives and with our near and dear ones throwing us off the tangent.

Age-related hearing loss is one of the most common medical conditions elderly people suffer from across the world. It is termed Presbycusis and can be treated with hearing aids depending upon the severity of hearing loss. Hearing loss can drift people away, especially older ones, from their normal state of being.

With the elderly and older adults, they may not be able to respond to important situations and events like the everyday interactions with their near and dear ones, doorbells, alarms/smoke alarms, phone calls, or even health-related emergencies that can upset their everyday life and routines.

This can lead them into isolation and loneliness making life more difficult. Hearing aids thus is a great way to keep life unstoppable and age as normally as one could without a hearing aid.

Age-related hearing loss can occur gradually or it can be a consequence of a medical condition/medications that could potentially contribute to hearing loss with varying degrees or it could be overexposure to very high dB of noise for longer durations.

As technologies advance, so have the ways and means to treat hearing loss in the young and the old. While young adults are better positioned to physically manage themselves, the elderly may or may not find it easy to deal with hearing loss depending on their overall health and medical conditions.

Hearing aids come in simpler to advanced versions that are configured to amplify and recognize the surrounding sound and speech at varying degrees and allow a patient to resume and respond with ease and efficacy. They can act as consistent support to the life of older people and help them stay interactive and responsive.

Signs of Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is a very common condition, especially with people over 60 years of age. Senior people suffer from hearing loss that is gradual in nature i.e it arises over a period of time. In other cases, it can be accidental too, where a patient is injured in an uneventful situation and his/her hearing is impaired.

In the former case, there are symptoms that a patient starts to show and can be tracked to monitor the condition. Broadly, the extent of hearing loss is divided into 3 main categories, a) Conductive (involves outer or middle ear), b) Sensorineural (involves inner ear), and c) Mixed (a combination of both conductive and sensorineural).

Most of the hearing loss is irreversible and hence the patient is advised to use a hearing aid. The most common early signs of hearing loss are

  • When the patient starts to give out muffled speech and other oratory sounds
  • When the patient starts to find it difficult in understanding and interpreting sounds in public spaces
  • When the patient is unable to correctly interpret or respond to consonants
  • When the patient starts to increase volume during phone conversations, or while playing music or radio or while watching TV
  • When the patient withdraws from social settings
  • When the patient is asking others to speak loudly or slowly

Signs and symptoms of Hearing Loss

 

How Hearing Aids Work

Hearing Aids in the simplest language are machines that amplify sounds. There’s a microphone that receives sound and converts it into a digital signal, there’s an amplifier that strengthens that digital signal and then there’s a speaker that produces that signal as an amplified sound in the ear. They are also called Digital Hearing Aids and can be easily customised to suit a patient’s degree of hearing loss. Hearing Aids come with features (some with automated features too) of adjusting the volume for improved hearing experience in different types of environments.

A few things to keep in mind about hearing loss:

  • No two people will experience the same degree of hearing loss
  • The reasons or contributing factors for each patient are different
  • Hearing loss can be moderate to severe to profound
  • More than the visibility of the hearing aid, the focus should be on treating the degree of impairment and lifestyle of a patient.

 

Consequences of untreated hearing loss

Just like any medical condition, hearing loss also needs to be treated in a timely manner with the right diagnosis. When untreated, the ability to hear might worsen and also create problems in other areas of a patient’s physical and mental wellbeing. The functioning of the brain is deeply connected with how we absorb the sounds around us and how we consequently react with our speech. Therefore, untreated hearing loss can lead to cognitive decline increasing chances of:

 

Developing Dementia – a condition where a set of symptoms relating to declining memory and thinking skills arise exponentially to a point where a person becomes unable to perform everyday actions.

Depression – Hearing loss can often isolate a patient especially if they are over 60 years of age. When combined with an untreated condition, the patient can easily slip into depression.

Anti-social behaviour – When a patient suffers from hearing loss, there’s a stigma associated with it when they socialise. Untreated hearing loss can frustrate patients and make them reactive which can lead to them in either showing anti-social behaviour or trying to avoid socialising proactively. This can further aggravate feelings of exhaustion, anxiety and insecurity.

Emotional health – Hearing loss during old age can impact the emotional health of a patient. Humans are social and expressing ourselves to our communities is what keeps us energised. Hearing loss however, often leads to seniors withdrawing themselves from social gatherings which can suppress their emotions.

The best hearing aid for old age:

 

Ear Machine for Old Age

1. Best Behind the Ear (BTE) Hearing Aid

Oticon Xceed
Hearing loss severity: Profound

Introducing the world’s most powerful hearing aid. Oticon Xceed is proven to give you better speech clarity with less listening effort in noisy environments.

 

 2. Best Receiver in Canal (RIC) Hearing Aid

Oticon Opn S / Oticon Ruby 
Hearing loss severity: Severe

Hearing Aid Feature: Rechargeable hearing aid

Opn S miniRITE R is a state-of-the art rechargeable hearing aid that sits discreetly behind the ear. With an easy-to-use charger, this style offers a wealth of features.

The new Oticon Ruby “sets a new standard in the essential category, delivering great sound quality, hassle-free rechargeability, and easy wireless connectivity in one complete solution

 

3. Best Invisible In Canal (ITC) Hearing Aid

Oticon Opn
Hearing loss severity:  Moderate to Severe

Made to fit your ear precisely, Opn in-the-ear hearing aids are the ultimate in personalized hearing care — a perfect blend of elegant design, superior comfort and unparalleled sound quality.

4. Best completely in canal (CIC) Hearing Aid

Oticon Siya
Hearing loss severity:  Moderate to Severe

Oticon Siya in-the-ear hearing aids capture and amplify the natural, rich details of sounds. They help improve your speech understanding, so you can experience the joy of everyday life.

5. Best In the Canal (ITC) Hearing Aid

Oticon Siya
Hearing loss severity:  Moderate to Severe

Oticon Siya hearing aids help you hear better, so you can focus on every precious moment.

 

Don’t delay hearing loss.

Book an appointment  with your local hearing care professional today!