Alice Pomidor, MD, MPH, AGSF
Florida State University School of Medicine
Mary Palmer, PhD, RN, FAAN, AGSF
Helen W. and Thomas L. Umphlet Distinguished Professor in Aging
UNC School of Nursing
You may find yourself turning up the volume on your favorite TV shows. Conversations in restaurants or other public places may become harder to understand—and you may find yourself wondering when these places got so loud. During a chat, you may ask a friend to repeat herself because you couldn’t hear words, or you may even find yourself “cupping” your ear in order to hear her better. If you, or someone you care for, has these experiences, they can be signs of possible hearing loss.
Older adults can experience hearing loss that ranges in severity from minor to major. It is the third most common chronic health condition affecting older adults—about 1 in every 3 people aged 65 or older has some degree of hearing loss. By the age of 85, as many as 70 to 90% of people will have some hearing loss. The condition tends to be more common in men than in women.
Hearing loss can lead to symptoms of depression and lead to feelings of isolation.What’s more, research suggests that older adults with hearing loss can also have cognitive problems. In fact, in one study of people aged 70 to 79, hearing loss was linked to faster cognitive decline and impairment, whether or not they were having other symptoms.
Finally, in a recent study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, researchers found that when older people with hearing loss wear hearing aids, their mood and social interactions improve, which might slow cognitive decline. Continue reading