Loss of hearing is just one of the common ailments that we associate with growing older. Most of us have been in situations where we find ourselves speaking louder – almost shouting – in the presence of an elderly person just because we assume they are hard of hearing. Recent medical studies indicate that as many as two million Americans over the age of 70 suffer from some degree of hearing loss, making it one of the most chronic health issues facing the elderly population today.

One particular study reported that nine out of ten adults had some form of hearing loss, but only a third of those had ever had their hearing tested. Men were found to be three times more likely than women to develop hearing loss. Further, of those individuals who did develop some degree of hearing loss, their condition worsened significantly over five years’ time. In most cases of progressed hearing loss, had the condition been treated sooner than it was originally found, treatment options could have preserved some of the lost ability.

Most older Americans are reluctant to admit when their physical capabilities become limited. In an effort to preserve as much as their independence as they can, they often deny that they have any real problems – whether it’s hearing loss or even mobility issues. However, noticing when an elderly loved one may be having trouble hearing is easy to do, if family members and caregivers know the signs to look for. Here are some typical warning signs that a person experiencing hearing loss may exhibit.

  • Speaking louder
  • Turning up the volume on televisions and radios more frequently and having them remain that way at all times
  • Complaining that people are ‘mumbling’ when they speak
  • Asking people around them to repeat themselves frequently
  • Trouble comprehending what people are saying to them
  • Appearing confused
  • Visibly straining to follow a conversation
  • Avoiding large crowds, groups,or public speakers
  • Trouble understanding women or children when they speak
  • Watching a person’s mouth intently when they speak, as if to read their lips

Because the signs of hearing loss may be very subtle at first, the condition may go unnoticed until it’s in a progressed state. This is why it is imperative for caregivers and family members to make sure that their elderly loved ones’ visits to the doctor include regular hearing screenings and discuss any concerns with their health care provider as soon as possible.

Tags: ,