Hearing loss can start at any age, however the risks increase as you get older. But hearing impairment isn’t an inevitable part of ageing. Age related hearing loss can have a significant effect on older adults. It’s therefore important to note that some of the causes of hearing loss are preventable. And many types of hearing loss are treatable.
Hearing loss impacts on a person’s ability to communicate as effectively as they once did. This often results in the affected person experiencing social issues, resulting in emotional reactions. If you’re receiving care in an aged care facility or receiving care at home, there can be a communication breakdown between carer and client. This may negatively alter the quality and delivery of care. As an aged care guide, an annual hearing check aids in preventing and minimising breakdowns in communication as a result of hearing loss.
Making modifications to support the quality of life of the older adult with a hearing impairment should be the priority, whether they’re living in care or living independently. But unfortunately, if help and diagnosis isn’t sought by qualified health professionals, hearing loss might be overlooked, and the presenting symptoms might be confused with another illness such as dementia. To avoid the misdiagnosis of dementia or any other illness when you’re suffering from hearing loss, the first step is to have a hearing test with an Audiologist.
Are you turning the television up higher than before? Are you struggling to hear conversations, especially in a noisy environment? If you’ve noticed any changes to your hearing, the first point of call is your family doctor.
Although anybody can voluntarily have their hearing checked with an audiologist, your G.P. may also refer you to an Otolaryngologist who specialise in ear disorders.
Conductive hearing loss is caused by the sound waves being blocked and is often only experienced in one ear. It can be the result of ear infections, a build-up if ear wax, or a trauma to the ear. Conductive hearing loss is often reversible with treatment.
Many people experience Cerumen impaction whereby the ear wax builds up and becomes impacted in the ear canal. This can significantly disrupt hearing, and it’s very treatable. Your doctor might give you some ear drops, and/ or syringe your ears to treat the cause.
Other older adults may experience some hearing loss due to a perforated tympanic membrane (eardrum) that they’re unaware of. Your doctor should be able to detect a ruptured membrane when examining the ear canal. Often a ruptured tympanic membrane requires surgery. This surgery is called Myringoplasty. Usually, hearing loss is temporary and hearing is restored when the eardrum is healed.
Sensorineural heating loss occurs when there’s damage to the nerves in the inner ear. Unfortunately this type of hearing loss is irreversible, however there’s treatment for it.
Presbycusis is the most common type of sensorineural hearing loss. The cause is natural, age related changes to the ears. It occurs over time and is therefore often difficult to notice. But one thing to look out for is if you’re struggling to hear high pitched sounds. This is often an indication of Presbycusis. It typically occurs in both ears too. But what can you do to reduce the risks of hearing loss, and even prevent hearing loss?
One of the most obvious ways to prevent hearing loss is to minimise your exposure to loud noises. If you have to be in a loud environment e.g. for work, then strongly consider wearing noise cancelling earmuffs or ear plugs. If you’ve had years of exposure to loud noises, it’s strongly suggested that you have your hearing tested. Go to an audiologist to diagnose the extent of any early hearing loss. Early detection of hearing loss means treatment as soon as possible, so that you’ll be able to look after your hearing health into the future.
Hearing loss is a common chronic condition in older people and can significantly impact on their social and emotional health. It can also affect their ability to complete activities of daily living. By having frequent hearing tests, and hearing aid maintenance, the symptoms of hearing loss are detectable early and treated accordingly. Maintaining good hearing health improves the lives of everybody, including the elderly.
For further information regarding hearing health as you age, contact Better Hearing Australia on (07) 3844 5065 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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