One of the fastest growing segments of the U.S. population is the older generation, consisting of people 65 plus years. By the year 2040 it is predicted that 20% of the U.S. population will be 65 plus years old. Of this group, the 85 plus years component is the fastest growing subgroup.
According to a study conducted by the MacArthur Foundation there are three key ingredients to successful aging. These are
-Avoiding disease and disability
-Maintaining high mental and physical function
-Continuing to engage actively in life through strong interpersonal relationships
In 1990 the National Center for Health Statistics published a list of the ten most chronic conditions in the 65 years old and over population in the U.S. In order of prevalence these are
Eighty percent of people over age 65 experience at least one of the conditions listed above. Although hearing loss is the third most common chronic condition listed, many older adults ignore the fact they have hearing loss. This is often due to denial or the presence of more life threatening health conditions. The presence of untreated hearing loss can mimic dementia. Older adults may often withdraw, answer questions inappropriately and appear confused if they do not hear and/or understand conversation.
Untreated hearing loss may result in depression, anxiety and a decrease in quality of life. The ability to hear and understand speech greatly impacts ones communication skills and interpersonal relationships, one of the key components to successful aging.
Eighty percent of hearing loss is due to abnormalities in the inner ear resulting in sensori-neural hearing impairment. Hearing aids and/or assistive listening devices are the preferred treatment for most types of sensori-neural hearing loss.
An audiologist is a licensed hearing health care expert with a masters or doctoral degree. Through consultation, an ear exam and hearing testing an audiologist determines whether or not a person has a hearing loss, the degree of hearing loss and hearing aid candidacy. Sometimes a physician referral is warranted prior to or in place of a hearing aid fitting. The audiologist will make this determination based on ear exam and test results.
As Helen Keller said, “When you lose your vision, you lose contact with things. When you lose your hearing, you lose contact with people.” If you are looking at me and you cant see me very well, it doesnt affect me at all. If we are talking and you dont hear
properly, then your problem becomes my problem, and the two of us have a communication problem.
In the year 2008 technological advances have made hearing aids more comfortable to wear, easier to use with more natural sound quality. If you or someone you know has hearing difficulties consult with an audiologist to learn more about your hearing and what can be done to help you.