Many people just accept hearing loss as a part of getting old like reading glasses or gray hair. But a study from Duke-NUS Medical School shows a connection between hearing loss and overall health in older adults.
Senior citizens with hearing or vision loss frequently struggle more with cognitive decline, depression, and communication troubles. That’s something you might have already read about. But did you realize that hearing loss is also connected to shorter life expectancy?
This research suggests that individuals with untreated hearing loss may enjoy “fewer years of life”. And, the possibility that they will have a hard time performing activities necessary for daily life almost doubles if the person has both hearing and vision impairment. It’s a problem that is both a physical and a quality of life concern.
This may sound bad but there’s a positive: hearing loss, for older people, can be treated through a variety of means. More significantly, serious health concerns can be found if you have a hearing exam which could encourage you to lengthen your life expectancy by paying more attention to your health.
Why is Hearing Loss Connected With Poor Health?
Research definitely shows a connection but the specific cause and effect isn’t perfectly understood.
Researchers at Johns Hopkins note that other problems such as greater risk of stroke and heart disease were observed in older individuals who had hearing loss.
When you understand what the causes of hearing loss are, these findings make more sense. Many instances of tinnitus and hearing loss are linked to heart disease since the blood vessels in the ear canal are affected by high blood pressure. When the blood vessels are shrunken – which can be due to smoking – the body’s blood has to work harder to keep the ears (and everything else) functioning which brings about higher blood pressure. Older adults with heart conditions and hearing loss often experience a whooshing sound in their ears, which is usually caused by high blood pressure.
Hearing loss has also been connected to Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and other forms of cognitive decline. There are numerous reasons for the two to be linked according to health care professionals and hearing experts: the brain needs to work overtime to understand conversations and words for one, which allows less mental capacity to actually process the words or do anything else. In other situations, difficulty communicating causes people with hearing loss to be less social. There can be a severe affect on a person’s mental health from social separation resulting in anxiety and depression.
How Older Adults Can Treat Hearing Loss
There are several solutions available to treat hearing loss in older adults, but as is shown by research, the best thing to do is deal with the issue as soon as you can before it has more extreme repercussions.
Hearing aids are one form 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. Also, basic quality of life has been enhancing because of hearing aid technology. For example, they let you 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 models.
Older adults can also visit a nutritionist or consult with their primary care physician about changes to their diet to help prevent additional hearing loss. There are links between iron deficiency anemia and hearing loss, for example, which can often be treated by adding more iron into your diet. Changes to your diet could also positively impact other health issues, resulting in an overall more healthy lifestyle.