Most people just accept hearing loss as a part of aging like gray hair or reading glasses. But a study from Duke-NUS Medical School demonstrates a connection between hearing loss and total health in older adults.
Communication problems, cognitive decline, and depression have a higher occurrence in senior citizens with vision or hearing loss. That’s something you may have already read about. But one thing you might not be aware of is that life expectancy can also be influenced by hearing loss.
This study indicates that individuals with untreated hearing loss may enjoy “fewer years of life”. What’s more, they discovered that if untreated hearing loss occurred with vision problems it almost doubles the likelihood that they will have difficulty with tasks necessary for daily living. It’s a problem that is both a physical and a quality of life concern.
While this may sound like bad news, there is a positive spin: hearing loss, for older adults, can be managed through a variety of means. Even more importantly, getting tested can help expose major health issues and spark you to take better care of yourself, which will increase your life expectancy.
Why is Hearing Loss Linked With Poor Health?
While the research is interesting, cause and effect are nonetheless not clear.
Researchers at Johns Hopkins note that other problems like increased risk of stroke and heart disease were seen in older people who were suffering hearing loss.
These results make sense when you know more about the causes of hearing loss. Many cases of hearing loss and tinnitus are linked to heart disease since high blood pressure affects the blood vessels in the ear canal. When you have shrunken blood vessels – which can be caused by smoking – the body has to work harder to squeeze the blood through which leads to high blood pressure. Older adults who have heart troubles and hearing loss commonly experience a whooshing sound in their ears, which is usually caused by high blood pressure.
Hearing loss has also been connected to dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and other forms of cognitive decline. Hearing specialists and other health professionals suspect there are several reasons why the two are linked: for one, the brain has to work overtime to distinguish words in a conversation, which leaves less mental capacity to actually process the words or do anything else. In other situations, difficulty communicating causes people who suffer from hearing loss to be less social. This social separation causes anxiety and depression, which can have an extreme impact on a person’s mental health.
How Older Adults Can Manage Hearing Loss
There are a few solutions available to treat hearing loss in older adults, but as is shown by research, the best thing to do is deal with the problem as soon as you can before it has more severe repercussions.
Hearing aids are one type of treatment that can work wonders in dealing with your hearing loss. There are small discreet models of hearing aids that are Bluetooth ready and an assortment of other options are also available. In addition, hearing aid technology has been maximizing basic quality-of-life issues. As an example, they enable you to hear better during your entertainment by allowing you to connect to your phone, computer, or TV and they filter out background noise better than older versions.
So that you can avoid further hearing loss, older adults can seek advice from their doctor or a nutritionist about positive dietary changes. There are connections between iron deficiency anemia and hearing loss, for instance, which can often be treated by increasing the iron content in your diet. Changes to your diet could also positively impact other health conditions, resulting in an overall more healthy lifestyle.