Much like reading glasses and graying hair, hearing loss is simply one of those things that many people accept as a part of growing old. But a study from Duke-NUS Medical School shows a link between hearing loss and total health in older adults.
Communication troubles, depression, and cognitive decline have a higher occurrence in senior citizens with vision or hearing loss. That’s something you may already have read about. But one thing you may not recognize is that life expectancy can also be affected by hearing loss.
People with untreated hearing loss, according to this study, may actually have a reduced lifespan. Additionally, they found that if untreated hearing loss occurred with vision impairments it almost doubles the likelihood that they will have a tough time with activities necessary for daily living. It’s both a physical problem and a quality of life problem.
This may sound bad but there’s a positive: hearing loss, for older adults, can be managed through a variety of methods. More significantly, serious health problems can be uncovered if you have a hearing test which could inspire you to lengthen your life expectancy by taking better care of yourself.
Why is Poor Health Associated With Hearing Loss?
While the research is interesting, cause and effect are still unclear.
Researchers at Johns Hopkins note that other problems such as increased risk of stroke and heart disease were seen in older people who had hearing loss.
These results make sense when you know more about the causes of hearing loss. Many cases of tinnitus and hearing loss are tied to heart disease since high blood pressure impacts the blood vessels in the ear canal. When you have shrunken blood vessels – which can be due to smoking – the body has to work harder to squeeze the blood through which results in high blood pressure. Older adults who have heart problems and hearing loss often experience a whooshing sound in their ears, which is usually caused by high blood pressure.
Hearing loss has also been linked to Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and other forms of cognitive decline. Hearing specialists and other health professionals suspect there are numerous reasons why the two are connected: 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 scenarios, difficulty communicating causes people with hearing loss to socialize less. This social separation causes depression and anxiety, which can have an extreme impact on a person’s mental health.
How Older Adults Can Manage Hearing Loss
There are a number of solutions available to manage hearing loss in older adults, but as is shown by research, the best thing to do is deal with the issue as soon as possible before it has more serious consequences.
Hearing aids are one type of treatment that can work wonders in fighting your hearing loss. There are small discreet versions of hearing aids that are Bluetooth ready and an assortment of other options are also available. Also, basic quality of life has been improving because of hearing aid technology. For instance, they block out background sound far better than older versions and can be connected to computers, cell phones, and TV’s to let you hear better during the entertainment.
In order to avoid further hearing loss, older adults can consult with their doctor or a nutritionist about positive dietary changes. There are links between iron deficiency anemia and hearing loss, for instance, which can usually be treated by adding more iron into your diet. Changes to your diet could also positively affect other health conditions, leading to an overall more healthy lifestyle.