Family gatherings can be difficult for those experiencing hearing loss. It’s not just seniors—your parents and your grandparents—who may be hiding symptoms. Researchers have identified a new phenomenon, known as hidden hearing loss, which left untreated can lead to the cumulative hearing loss we associate with aging.

UNTREATED HEARING LOSS IN SENIORS

Although nearly 27 million Americans age 50 and older have hearing loss, only one in seven uses a hearing aid. Indeed, an AARP/ASHA poll of AARP members, 47% of respondents reported having untreated hearing loss. That is turning out to be a bigger deal than previously thought, with devastating implications for the health of our senior citizens.

Research  has linked hidden hearing loss with difficulty walking, falls, and dementia.

Johns Hopkins

In a study that tracked 639 adults for nearly 12 years, experts at Johns Hopkins found that “mild hearing loss doubled dementia risk. Moderate loss tripled risk, and people with a severe hearing impairment were five times more likely to develop dementia.”

Hearing loss contributes to social isolation, of course. It’s frustrating when you struggle to follow conversations. Often, we compensate by withdrawing, avoiding others, and when that’s not possible, we may limit our participation in large gatherings.

Short of helping a loved one get in touch with a good audiologist, during the holidays when we are together a lot, it’s a good time to pay attention to one another… slow down.

  • Lower the volume on your holiday music.
  • Create cozy areas designed for smaller, more intimate conversations.
  • If you are going to have a party that seniors with hearing loss are expected to attend, allow them to invite or bring friends who can help them feel more included in conversations and/or repeat details they may miss or not understand.

Ask about our risk-free trial.

Hidden Hearing Loss in Georgia

WHAT IS HIDDEN HEARING LOSS

Today, we are finding that hearing loss is surprisingly prevalent even in young people. In 2009, researchers definitively identified a phenomenon now known as “hidden” hearing loss—cochlear synaptopathy—a likely contributor to the cumulative loss typically associated with aging.

It begins with difficulty understanding conversation in a noisy environment. That’s normal enough, given some of the environments we subject ourselves to in this day and age. Often, however, the difficulty will become concerning enough that the patient decides their hearing tested.

Unfortunately, a simple hearing test might not be enough.

This phenomenon remained obscure for so long because an audiogram administered in a quiet room does not activate certain key nerve fibers, which means patients can pass a hearing test even when the fibers have been damaged.

“We have seen this condition clinically for years,” says Gabe Pitt of Optimal Hearing. “Now with this research and similar studies, we have not only the tools to assess hidden hearing loss, but we have treatment options that can improve a patient’s ability to understand conversations despite a noisy environment – and in many cases it does not require hearing aids.”

The lesson: If you have a complaint, it is probably valid – you just need someone who is willing to listen.

Having trouble hearing whenever there is lots of background noise? A  family-run business for over 50 years, Optimal Hearing specializes in  diagnosing hearing loss in seniors, in adults over 50, and hidden hearing loss  that, left untreated, may lead to health problems in later life.