Can't hear clearly, always getting sidetracked? Let's talk about hearing loss in the elderly.
As people age, many experience a decline in their hearing abilities. However, not all seniors are aware of their hearing issues.
When any part of the auditory pathway encounters problems, individuals struggle to accurately hear sounds, leading to hearing loss. Clinical observations indicate an increasing prevalence of hearing loss among the elderly.
Common Types of Hearing Loss in the Elderly
1. Neurosensory Hearing Loss
This type is associated with factors such as the natural decline of physiological functions with age and improper medication usage. Conditions prevalent in older individuals, such as hypertension, diabetes, and hyperlipidemia, can affect the blood supply and nutritional support to the cochlea, making aging a significant contributor to hearing impairment.
2. Conductive Hearing Loss
Primarily linked to factors like living environment, health awareness, and medical conditions, conductive hearing loss often results from untreated middle ear infections acquired during youth.
Characteristics of Age-Related Hearing Loss
Age-related hearing loss is characterized by two main features. Firstly, it affects both ears with a slow progression, making it less noticeable compared to sudden hearing loss in one ear. Secondly, it predominantly involves high-frequency loss, meaning individuals can hear low-frequency sounds but struggle with high-frequency ones. Given that consonant frequencies in the Chinese language are higher, misunderstandings, like hearing 'selling cabbage' instead of 'falling in love,' can occur.
Many individuals with hearing loss claim they can hear, but upon further inquiry, it becomes evident that their understanding is limited.
Additionally, some seniors dismiss age-related hearing loss as normal and may not pay attention to the issue. Younger age, higher education levels, having a spouse, and mild hearing loss make individuals less susceptible to the impact of hearing loss, leading to potential misdiagnosis.
What to Do When Seniors Experience Hearing Loss
Unconscious hearing loss in seniors can hinder effective communication. When seniors don't comprehend but believe they do, providing inaccurate feedback can lead to misunderstandings. This, over time, affects their normal social interactions. Early detection and treatment are crucial.
Currently, many seniors underestimate the significance of hearing loss, necessitating enhanced health education. When communicating with elderly family members, pay attention to signs like 'asking irrelevant questions,' 'interrupting,' or 'speaking loudly.' Prompt action is necessary upon identification of these signs.
Seniors should also:
Regularly Test Hearing: Periodic hearing tests allow seniors to understand the extent and nature of their hearing loss. Simple hearing tests can be conducted using smartphone applications every 2-3 years to detect hearing issues early.
Seek Early Diagnosis and Treatment: If seniors detect conductive hearing loss, timely treatment is crucial. In cases of neurosensory loss, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, avoiding noise exposure, ensuring good sleep habits, and interventions like hearing aids or cochlear implants can help maintain a normal life.