Just like reading glasses and graying hair, hearing loss is just one of those things that many people accept as a part of the aging process. But a study from Duke-NUS Medical School shows a connection between hearing loss and general health in older adults.
Communication troubles, depression, and cognitive decline have a higher occurrence in older people with vision or hearing loss. You might have already read about that. But did you know that hearing loss is also linked to shorter life expectancy?
This research shows that individuals with neglected hearing loss may enjoy “fewer years of life”. And, the possibility that they will have a hard time performing tasks required for everyday life nearly doubles if the person has both hearing and vision impairment. It’s both a physical problem and a quality of life problem.
This may sound bad but there’s a positive: hearing loss, for older adults, can be treated through a variety of methods. More significantly, major health issues can be discovered if you have a hearing test which could encourage you to lengthen your life expectancy by paying more attention to your health.
Why is Weak Health Associated With Hearing Loss?
Research definitely reveals a link but the specific cause and effect isn’t well understood.
Researchers at Johns Hopkins note that other problems like greater risk of stroke and heart disease were seen in older individuals who were suffering hearing loss.
These results make sense when you know more about the causes of hearing loss. Countless 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 caused by smoking – the blood in the body needs to push harder to keep the ears (and everything else) working which brings about higher blood pressure. Older adults who have heart problems and hearing loss commonly experience a whooshing noise in their ears, which is usually caused by high blood pressure.
Hearing loss has also been linked to dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and other forms of cognitive decline. Hearing specialists and other health care professionals suspect there are numerous reasons why the two are connected: for one, the brain has to work overtime to distinguish words in a conversation, which saps out the brain’s capacity to do anything else. In other situations, many people who have hearing loss tend to be less social, usually due to the difficulty they have communicating. There can be a severe affect on a person’s mental health from social isolation resulting in anxiety and depression.
How Hearing Loss Can be Treated by Older Adults
There are a number of options available to treat hearing loss in older adults, but as is shown by research, the smartest thing to do is deal with the issue as soon as possible before it has more serious consequences.
Hearing aids are one form of treatment that can work wonders in dealing with your hearing loss. There are small discreet versions of hearing aids that are Bluetooth ready and a variety of other options are also available. What’s more, hearing aid technology has been enhancing basic quality-of-life challenges. For instance, they block out background noise far better than older versions and can be connected to cell phones, TVs, and computers to allow for better hearing during the entertainment.
Older adults can also visit a nutritionist or talk to their physician about changes to their diet to help prevent further hearing loss. There are connections between iron deficiency anemia and hearing loss, for instance, which can frequently be treated by increasing the iron content in your diet. An improved diet can help your other medical issues and help you have better general health.