Common Signs of Hearing Loss in the Elderly
Hearing loss is a common problem among the population for several reasons. Loss of hearing can occur because of excessively loud noise, disease, heredity factors and more commonly — age-related issues. In fact, 1 in 6 people in the UK suffers from hearing loss.
Presbycusis is a type of hearing loss that occurs gradually as you age, either due to wear and tear to the tiny hair cells in the inner ear or from complex changes along the nerve pathways that lead to the brain. As the loss happens over time, those who have it may not realise their hearing is degrading.
If you are experiencing hearing loss yourself or if you are concerned about a senior friend or family member, it’s important to schedule a test at a private ear clinic or through the NHS.
Below are eight common signs to look out for that indicate a hearing loss.
1. Turning the TV Volume up High
Often, when people begin to struggle with their hearing, it’s easier to tackle the problem with short-term solutions than it is to address it directly. A common example is gradually turning up the volume on the TV. This solution, however, doesn’t always help to make the sound clearer and you may even find you are regularly turning on the subtitles to follow a show’s dialogue.
2. Difficulty Hearing on the Phone
Similarly, you may notice that conversations over the phone are not as easy as they used to be. Those with hearing loss tend to rely on lipreading, facial expressions and body language to help fill in the gaps when you’re talking face-to-face. You may be more dependent on these communication methods than you realise.
3. You Can’t Hear Household Sounds
Another everyday symptom that you become aware of is your inability to hear normal household sounds. Hearing loss can make it challenging to hear the doorbell, the telephone ringing, or more dangerously — the fire alarm beeping.
4. Asking People to Speak Louder, Slower or More Clearly
During conversations with others, you may find everyone mumbles a lot — you can’t quite catch what they’re saying. As a result, you’re regularly asking others to speak LOUDER, s-l-o-w-e-r and more clearly.
5. Asking People to Repeat Themselves
Likewise, you may be continually asking others to repeat what they’ve just said because you’ve missed a word or even the whole sentence. Difficulty hearing can often result in a problem concentrating, which can lead to inattentiveness and distraction. If you’ve already asked “what?” three times and still have no idea what the person said, it’s time to book a hearing test.
6. Misunderstanding Conversations
If continuously asking others to speak up or to “say it again” isn’t frustrating enough, you may even find yourself completely misunderstanding conversations — “Did you say the sand is hot?” “No, I said, what about this spot?” It can be comical in the moment, but understandably disheartening when it happens again and again.
7. Withdrawing or Avoiding Social Events
One of the most serious consequences of hearing loss is withdrawal from social situations or completely avoiding them because it might be embarrassing or exhausting. This is a real shame as hearing loss does not have to change your hobbies.
8. Dizziness, Pain or Ringing in the Ears
If you struggle with dizziness, pain in the ears, or a ringing or buzzing sound, this can be a sign of hearing loss, damage to the auditory system or even impacted ear wax. Visit a health professional or audiologist ASAP to gain relief and improve your quality of life.
Strategies to help people with age-related hearing loss may include hearing aids and assistive listening devices to provide further hearing improvement in certain situations. Keep in mind that symptoms of hearing loss can sometimes be confused with dementia, so it’s important to schedule a hearing test to ensure the correct diagnosis.