According to 2019 and 2020 statistics, about 48 million Americans have some degree of hearing loss. This represents over 20% of the US population. For older adults, the prevalence rate for persons aged sixty to seventy-five ranges from 12 to 15%. Moreover, medical research proves the relationship between hearing loss & cognitive decline, which is an area you may wish to explore. With that said, how does hearing loss impact the quality of life for the elderly? Please read this article to gain insight into this topic.
3 Ways Hearing Loss Affects Older Adults
Reduced brain function
When the part of the brain which interprets sound fails to function as it should, it becomes inactive and deteriorates over time. Scientific research states that you are three times (or more) likely to develop dementia or Alzheimer’s in old age if left untreated. These conditions affect your cognitive function, which ultimately reduces your quality of life.
Moreover, along with the reduced cognitive function is the likelihood of developing anxiety issues and depression. Cognitive decline eventually affects your daily life, and you will have no option but to rely on others to help you perform essential functions. Fortunately, with technological advancement, hearing aids keep your brain active and can reduce your chances of developing these medical conditions as you get older.
Humans rely on interpersonal relationships to foster social interactions. With untreated hearing loss, however, these relationships can make a person withdraw and become reclusive. Furthermore, family dinners and conversations become daunting tasks because there is no way to contribute effectively when you cannot listen in or hear what is being discussed.
For some elders with progressive hearing loss, this impacts their self-confidence and takes away the joy of meeting up with family and loved ones. Fortunately, with hearing aids, you can rejoin your family activities without feeling left out.
Increases the risk of falls and injuries
In some individuals, especially older adults, hearing loss brings on other undesirable symptoms. For instance, feeling unbalanced and unsteady are everyday experiences people with hearing impairment complain about. As proof of this fact, hopkinsmedicine.org conducted a study involving 2000 senior citizens with varying degrees of hearing loss. Out of this number, over 55% of older adults with moderate to profound hearing loss missed their steps more than five times daily.
However, those with mild hearing impairment did so once or twice a day. This means, the higher the severity of hearing loss, the higher your chances of falling. It would interest you to know that 36 million senior citizens suffer various injuries from sudden falls every year. Out of this number, 32,000 tend to be fatal. If you are in this age bracket, that is not a statistic you want to become part of.
Fortunately, the Washington School of Medicine, which conducted a similar study, found out that older adults who used hearing aids can improve their balance issues. Indeed, hearing loss can affect the quality of life in senior citizens, but with safe interventions, they can be happier and have their self-confidence restored.