Is Your Loved One Losing Their Hearing?Hearing
When someone starts to lose their hearing, the first to notice is often not the person themselves, but those around them. The person with hearing loss starts asking people to repeat themselves, or to speak up. At first, this may be hardly noticeable. After all, all of us on occasion have to ask someone to repeat themselves.
But when the requests for repeating conversation, or to talk louder, become more frequent, or you notice that your loved one is watching television with the sound blaring, it’s time to have that difficult conversation that they may have hearing loss. And it’s imperative that you do so because hearing loss is a much larger issue than just inconvenience.
Hearing loss is about the inconvenience of having to speak up or repeat your sentence: it’s about one’s safety, their cognitive ability, and the quality of life for the person with the hearing loss.
How Untreated Hearing Loss Can Affect Someone’s Life
- Hearing Loss Increases Chances of Depression and Anxiety
The National Council on Aging did a study where they found that those individuals with hearing loss were 50% more likely to have depression. The inability to hear can lead to deteriorating relationships with loved ones and others. When someone begins to have a harder time hearing, it makes it more difficult for them to connect to you and other people that can lead to increasing isolation often leading to depression.
A simple trip to the grocery store can be frustrating and depressing, and being unable to hear well, especially in very noisy environments, can lead not only to frustration, anxiety and anger, but also to feelings of helplessness.
- Hearing Loss Affects Safety
If a driver can’t hear sirens or honking horns, they pose a danger not only to themselves, but to those around them. In addition, according to research, even a mild hearing loss can increase the risk of falls because of the role ears play in balance.
- Untreated Hearing Loss Leads to Higher Medical Bills
Being unable to hear medical professionals can lead to misunderstandings and a potential inability to properly attend to medical needs. Additionally, it has been shown that untreated hearing loss leads to an higher medical bills for other conditions:
… the costs of healthcare were higher for those with treated hearing loss than for those without any hearing loss at all, but those who spent the most on healthcare were those with untreated hearing loss. Even taking into account adjustments to the data for those who received hearing treatment such as hearing aids, those being treated for hearing loss still paid significantly less for healthcare than those who had hearing loss but did not receive hearing treatment.
- Untreated Hearing Loss Can Contribute to Cognitive Decline
Research has shown that when the hearing centers in the brain shrink, other parts of the brain that are used to do other tasks, “step in” to help. This means those functions start to decline – functions such as short term memory or problem solving.
Other studies, such as one done by Johns Hopkins with the National Institute on Aging, suggest that for those with hearing loss the strain of decoding sounds may have something to do with dementia and cognitive decline. Simply put, straining to hear and understand sound becomes too much for the brain to handle, and again, the brain weakens as a result.”
- A Link Between Hearing Loss and Dementia
There are studies that indicate even a mild hearing loss can double the chance of developing dementia and greater hearing loss raises the dementia risk even more. According to Dr. Lin’s 2011 study in Archives of Neurology, severe hearing loss can increase the risk for dementia up to five times more than without hearing loss.
Tips for Talking to Your Loved One about Their Hearing Loss
With all the potential risk issues that come with untreated hearing loss, this is not a conversation to put off. When you do sit down to speak with your loved one focus on effects of the hearing loss as well as the benefits of hearing aids.
Delayed Treatment can make Hearing Loss Worse
Do your homework (like reading this article and other hearing loss articles) so that you can offer knowledgeable advice and guidance. Everyone involved should understand that becoming comfortable with hearing aids is a process, not a magical fix.
The Concern About Cost of Hearing Aids
The Lions Sight and Hearing Foundation of Southern California (LSH) provides funding for devices to restore the gift of hearing for those who live in our California Service Area who meet our guidelines to obtain critically needed hearing aids.
If your loved one or parent meets the LSH guidelines, LSH will fund or share in the cost of providing hearing aids, dispensed through a local hearing aid dispensary and in some cases, LSH may also cover copay costs for those with insurance. Go through our easy 4 Step Guide (en espanol – ¿Cómo calificar?) to see if you qualify or call us at 1-800-647-6638.
Lions Sight and Hearing Foundation might be able to help with the cost of your hearing aids.
To find out if you qualify go to How Do I Qualify or call us at 800-647-6638.