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 general health in older adults.
Communication problems, 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 be aware of is that life expectancy can also be affected by hearing loss.
This research indicates that people with untreated hearing loss might enjoy “fewer years of life”. What’s more, they found that if untreated hearing loss happened with vision impairments it almost doubles the likelihood that they will have a tough time with tasks necessary for daily living. It’s a problem that is both a physical and a quality of life issue.
This may sound bad but there’s a positive: there’s a variety of ways that hearing loss can be treated. Even more significantly, getting tested can help expose major health problems and spark you to take better care of yourself, which will improve your life expectancy.
Why is Poor Health Linked With Hearing Loss?
While the research is interesting, cause and effect are still unclear.
Researchers at Johns Hopkins note that other issues like increased risk of stroke and heart disease were observed in older people who were suffering hearing loss.
These findings make sense when you understand more about the causes of hearing loss. Countless 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 caused by smoking – the body has to work harder to push the blood through which leads to high blood pressure. High blood pressure in older adults with hearing impairment often causes them to hear a whooshing noise in their ears.
Hearing loss has also been linked to dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and other forms of cognitive decline. There are a number of reasons for the two to be connected according to health professionals and hearing specialists: for starters, the brain needs to work overtime to differentiate words in a conversation, which taps out the brain’s ability to do anything else. In other circumstances, difficulty communicating causes people who suffer from hearing loss to be less social. There can be a severe affect on a person’s mental health from social isolation resulting in depression and anxiety.
How Hearing Loss Can be Treated by Older Adults
There are several options available to treat hearing loss in older adults, but as is revealed by research, the smartest thing to do is deal with the issue as soon as possible before it has more severe repercussions.
Hearing aids are one form of treatment that can be very effective in fighting your hearing loss. There are several different types of hearing aids available, including small, discreet models that connect with Bluetooth technology. Also, basic quality of life has been improving as a result of hearing aid technology. For instance, they enable you to hear better during your entertainment by allowing you to connect to your phone, computer, or TV and they block out background sound better than older models.
So that you can prevent further hearing loss, older adults can seek advice from their physician or a nutritionist about positive dietary changes. There are links between iron deficiency anemia and hearing loss, for instance, which can often be treated by increasing the iron content in your diet. A better diet can help your other medical conditions and help you have better overall health.