Why You Should Monitor Your Aunt’s Hearing

Woman communicating with her hands as she struggles to hear conversation.

You expect specific things as your loved ones grow older: Gray hair, needing glasses, stories about “When I was your age”. Hearing loss is another change that we associate with aging. This happens for numerous reasons: Some medications or medical treatments such as chemotherapy that cause structural damage to the ear, exposure to loud noises (this could be from loud concerts in your youth or on the job noises), or even normal changes to the inner ear.

But you can’t simply ignore the hearing loss of an older friend or relative just because you knew it would occur. This is particularly true because you may simply begin to speak louder to compensate for the gradual hearing loss your loved one is developing. So you should be serious about hearing impairment and have a talk with your loved one and here are four reasons why.

1. Hearing Problems Can Cause Needless Hazards

In a small house, smoke and fire alarms usually don’t have the flashing lights and other visual components that they have in a larger building. People who suffer from hearing loss can miss other less severe day-to-day cues too: Receiving a phone call, someone ringing the doorbell, or (and yes, we’re back in potentially really dangerous territory here) car horns. Minor inconveniences or even major challenges can be the outcome of reduced hearing.

2. Hearing Loss Has Been Linked to an Increased Danger of Cognitive Issues

A large meta-study revealed that age-related hearing loss had a statistically significant association with mental decline and dementia. What the link exactly is, is debated, but withdrawal from social activity which leads to a decreased level of involvement and less stimulation for the brain is a leading theory. However, some researchers claim that when we experience hearing impairment, our brains work so much harder to process and comprehend sounds that other cognitive tasks get less resources.

3. Hearing Loss Can be Costly

If your family member is worried that addressing hearing problems could be costly, here’s a strong counterpoint: Studies have shown that, for many reasons, neglected hearing loss can hurt your wallet. For example, people who have neglected hearing loss had, on average, a 33% higher medical cost, according to a 2016 study. Why? People with hearing loss may have a hard time with communication causing them to skip preventative care appointments and thereby missing major health concerns which then results in a larger medical bill in the future. One of the study’s writers proposed that this was exactly the scenario. Hearing loss is also connected to mental decline and numerous health issues, as other individuals have noted. Another point to consider: For individuals who haven’t retired, hearing loss is linked to decreased work productivity, potentially having an immediate effect on your paycheck.

4. Hearing Impairment is Connected to Depression

There can also bo be mental and emotional health consequences that come with hearing troubles. The inability to hear others clearly can lead to anxiety and stress and increase withdrawal and solitude. Especially among elderly people, a lack of social activity is linked to negative mental (and physical) health repercussions. The good news: Social situations will produce less anxiety with treatment for hearing impairment and this will lead to less depression. People who wear hearing aids to manage hearing impairment show fewer symptoms of depression and are more socially active according to a study done by the National Council on Aging.

How to do Your Part

Talk! We mean yes, talk to your family member about hearing loss, and keep the conversation flowing. This can help you determine the degree of hearing loss by supplying a second pair of ears and it also furthers mental engagement. People older than 70 with hearing impairment tend to under-report it, though the reasons why are presently debated. Secondly, motivate your friend or family member to come see us. Regular, professional hearing assessments are essential for establishing a baseline and understanding how their hearing may be changing.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.


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