5 Ways to Identify and Handle Hearing Loss

Hearing issue

Hearing loss is becoming increasingly common amongst America’s elderly population. Folks coming off a social holiday season may have noticed, for perhaps the first time, that their hearing is not as good as it once was. While you may initially fear the potential reality of hearing loss, there are actions seniors can take to navigate the experience. 

There are solutions in the form of hearing aids and social learning that can help you to maintain a healthy social life with minimal frustration.

Continue reading to learn about hearing loss trends for seniors, why now is the best time to assess your hearing ability, and how to manage hearing loss to maintain a healthy social life and help you feel safer[1]

Hearing Loss Trends for Seniors

Age-related hearing loss affects nearly 30% of people between the ages of 65 and 74. As you continue aging, your hearing ability gradually worsens, most often in both ears[2]. Since hearing loss tends to be gradual, you may not realize your hearing has gotten worse unless you have your doctor assess your hearing regularly. Even though hearing problems are common for older adults, many seniors are unwilling to admit their hearing might be worsening. Seniors should address hearing problems sooner rather than later to create the right lifestyle changes to remain socially active and avoid potential depression related to any loss of their hearing ability. 

Age-related loss is just one type of hearing loss people can experience. Hearing loss also results from damage to the ears or from a blockage in the ear. This prevents sound from reaching the hearing mechanisms. Seniors can and may experience both[3]. Many factors can contribute to hearing loss, including existing health conditions. You are more likely to develop hearing loss if someone in your family has had hearing loss, too. Conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes may also factor into hearing loss as you age. External factors like sustained exposure to loud noise and other damage to the ears can also make you vulnerable to hearing loss. 

Since there are many factors involved with age-related hearing loss, seniors should consult their doctors to have them assess their hearing, even if they do not think their hearing is suffering. The earlier your doctor detects hearing loss, the earlier you and your doctor can develop a treatment plan and may even slow the progression of hearing loss. 

Assess Your Hearing Ability NOW

Spending time with friends and family over the holidays benefits seniors’ social wellbeing[4]. Some older adults may realize they have a harder time hearing the people around them and are overwhelmed with all the noise. Those seniors should take seek advice from their doctors if they think their hearing is not what it used to be.

Together with your doctor, you can develop a treatment plan for potential hearing loss. The best plan depends on the level of your hearing loss, your existing medical needs, and your lifestyle. Using earplugs may help reduce exposure to loud noises to minimize damage to your ears. Similarly, your doctor may prescribe medicine to help maintain the level of wax in the ear to prevent impacted wax. Hearing aids are the most common hearing loss treatment for older adults who need assistance hearing. Staying vigilent with your hearing health is the key to the success of the treatments. Only 10% of adults with hearing issues seek treatment, meaning the remaining adults with hearing issues do not act upon their need for treatment. Seniors should be proactive and talk to their doctor about consistently monitoring their hearing levels. 

The start of the new year is a good time to assess your hearing for financial reasons, too. Many seniors older than 65 receive their healthcare through Medicare, constituting over 85% of all Medicare beneficiaries. Medicare benefits refresh on January 1st, so the beginning of the year is a good time to assess your medical needs. Getting fitted for hearing aid devices takes time and coordination with your insurance provider before you can start using these devices.  

You may need to transition to new lifestyle changes gradually as you adjust to hearing loss. Elderly adults suffering from hearing loss are up to 3 times more likely to fall than those without diminished hearing. Hearing issues may affect balance and physical coordination. Those with impacted hearing abilities should consider a medical alert device to help them receive immediate assistance in the event of a fall or other emergency situation. 

Coping with Hearing Loss 

Hearing loss does not exclude older adults from maintaining relationships and partaking in the activities they enjoy. While there may be a learning curve, seniors can still participate fully in social situations with hearing loss using the following strategies. 

  • Communicate this change to friends and family: Sharing your hearing loss with friends and family is a key step to interacting in social settings. Communicating your needs to the host of a get together can help them accommodate you better. For example, you can request a specific seat at the table or have the host keep the music level down to reduce the noise competition. 

  • Find a good hearing aid: A good hearing aid makes all the difference in social settings. A proper hearing aid fitting appointment will help you select the right type of hearing aid and give you a custom device to fit your ear. Hearing aids amplify the sound you hear at the right level for you. The right hearing aid will help you to hear conversations more clearly without having to struggle. For social interactions, hearing aids keep you connected to the conversation. 

  • Request captions for online meetings or gatherings: Virtual meetings can pose a challenge for older adults with hearing loss. Luckily, the popular virtual meeting platforms have accurate, automatic captioning features which allow you to read a transcript of the conversation as it happens and participate as you normally would. If you are unsure how to turn on captions in a virtual meeting, ask for help. You can also ask the meeting host to enable captioning to have captions on from the start. 

  • Communicate clearly when you cannot hear something: Open communication about your hearing needs underlies all the previous suggestions. Being honest about the ways to accommodate a social event to meet your hearing needs is the best way to feel included.

How to Remain Safe and Reduce Anxiety with Hearing Loss 

Hearing loss can pose new dangers and lifestyle changes, which can cause anxiety for older adults. Some of the strategies to help you navigate social situations will help you manage those situations. However, social situations are just one part of how hearing loss impacts your day. To reduce your anxiety during your time spent at-home or alone, seniors can use a medical alert device to keep assistance one button-push away. 

Alert1 offers a variety of medical alert devices to match your needs. You can choose a wearable device, like the on-the-go wrist watch or necklace, or an at-home model. Any of the device types you select comes with 24/7/365 live assistance from trained operators. Each operator has certifications, unlike other medical alert companies. The operator can connect you with the resource you need the moment you need it. If you happen to have a false alarm or an accidental button push, Alert1 does not charge you for it, unlike other alert device companies. 

Alert1 offers flexible pricing models which do not lock you into lengthy contracts, which you might face with other button alarm companies. A personal emergency alarm gives you more confidence in your day-to-day life as you adapt to changes relating to your hearing loss—including fall risk and balance issues. An Alert1 agent remains on the line with you until help arrives, even if you are unable to respond.

Hearing loss does not mean that your life has to change completely. You can make successful modifications with the right tools, like a hearing aid and a  medical alert device, and social strategies, like visual cues and closed captioning. 

 

 

 

 

 

 



[1] Crouch, Michelle. 2021, Nov. 17. 9 Ways to Handle Hearing Loss at the Holidays. AARP.org. 9 Ways to Handle Hearing Loss at the Holidays.

[2] Clason, Debbie. 2020, Nov. 10. Age-related hearing loss. HealthyHearing.com. Age-related hearing loss.

[3] Biggers, Alana. 2021, Sept. 29. Understanding Conductive Hearing Loss. Healthline.com. Understanding Conductive Hearing Loss.

[4] Patton, Chase. January 2017. Senior Socialization Leads to Better Quality of Life. Appalachian Agency for Senior Citizens. Senior Socialization Leads to Better Quality of Life.