Many people just accept hearing loss as a part of aging like gray hair or reading glasses. But a study from Duke-NUS Medical School shows a link between hearing loss and total health in older adults.
Senior citizens with hearing or vision loss often struggle more with depression, cognitive decline, and communication problems. You might already have read about that. But one thing you may not recognize is that life expectancy can also be affected by hearing loss.
People with untreated hearing loss, according to this research, may actually have a reduced lifespan. And, the possibility that they will have a hard time performing activities necessary for daily life nearly doubles if the person has both hearing and vision impairment. It’s both a physical issue and a quality of life issue.
This might sound bad but there’s a positive: several ways that hearing loss can be managed. Even more importantly, having a hearing exam can help uncover serious health concerns and inspire you to pay more attention to staying healthy, which will improve your life expectancy.
Why is Poor Health Connected With Hearing Loss?
While the research is persuasive, cause and effect are still unclear.
Researchers at Johns Hopkins note that other problems including greater risk of stroke and heart disease were seen in older individuals who had hearing loss.
These findings make sense when you understand more about the causes of hearing loss. Many instances of tinnitus and hearing loss are tied to heart disease since high blood pressure impacts the blood vessels in the ear canal. When you have shrunken blood vessels – which can be a consequence of smoking – the body has to work harder to squeeze the blood through which results in high blood pressure. Older adults with heart problems and hearing loss often experience a whooshing sound in their ears, which is usually caused by high blood pressure.
Hearing loss has also been connected to Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and other types of cognitive decline. There are several reasons for the two to be linked according to health care professionals and hearing specialists: for one, the brain has to work harder to differentiate words in a conversation, which leaves less mental capacity to actually process the words or do anything else. In other scenarios, difficulty communicating causes people who suffer from hearing loss to socialize less. This social isolation leads to depression and anxiety, which can have a severe impact on a person’s mental health.
How Older Adults Can Treat Hearing Loss
There are a number of options available to treat hearing loss in older adults, but as the studies reveal, it is smart to tackle these issues early before they affect your general health.
Hearing aids are one type of treatment that can work wonders in dealing with your hearing loss. There are small discreet models of hearing aids that are Bluetooth ready and a variety of other options are also available. Also, basic quality of life has been enhancing as a result of hearing aid technology. For instance, they filter out background noise a lot better than older models and can be connected to cell phones, TVs, and computers to allow for better hearing during the entertainment.
Older adults can also go to a nutritionist or contact their doctor about changes to their diet to help counter additional hearing loss. There are connections between iron deficiency anemia and hearing loss, for example, which can frequently be treated by increasing the iron content in your diet. Changes to your diet could also positively affect other health issues, resulting in an overall more healthy lifestyle.