WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- The main causes of hearing loss are hereditary factors, noise exposure, trauma and ear diseases and aging.
- Over 40% of adults over 50 have some level of hearing loss, increasing to 70% for people over 70.
- There are potentially serious outcomes if you ignore hearing loss, including an increased risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
We accept hearing loss as an inevitable part of aging like grey hair and vision problems. And as we get older, it tends to get worse.
Hearing loss is not just an inconvenience for many people. It can cause social isolation, which eventually can lead to mental health problems such as depression. There are also published studies showing that it can significantly increase your risk of dementia.
However, only about 40% of people who have hearing loss use hearing aids, according to the charity, Action on Hearing Loss.
- Many people are hesitant to wear them.
- Their doctor hasn’t referred them to an audiology service.
- They simply don’t notice that their hearing is declining.
- They are worried about being given a large and very obtrusive hearing aid.
But, hearing aids are more discreet and effective now than they used to be.
Gradual hearing loss is hard to detect sometimes. Warning signs you may be losing your hearing include:
- Having the TV or radio on very loud
- Having a hard time engaging in conversations
- Missing phone calls or the front door bell
- Denying you have a problem.
Dr Jennifer Bizley, an auditory neuroscientist says that people sometimes don’t recognize hearing loss because they rely on their vision more.
“We used to think that dedicated bits of the brain did hearing, and a separate bit did vision, and only later was that information put together,” she said.
“Now we know that actually there’s cross-talk between the senses at a really early stage, and one of the things that we think that information could be doing is helping you in situations that are difficult, like listening in a noisy restaurant.
“Being able to see a mouth movement or see gestures might allow you to pull that person’s voice out of a sound mixture – out of the noise – more effectively.”
If getting a hearing aid is not an option for you, then you can try some of these tips to “hear better”:
- Put yourself in the middle if you’re with a group.
- Have the light behind you to see the other person’s face more clearly.
- Ask people to face you when they are talking.
- You could try lip-reading.
It’s not too late to correct hearing loss so you can prevent the mental decline.