Just like graying hair and reading glasses, hearing loss is simply one of those things that most people accept as a part of growing old. But a study from Duke-NUS Medical School reveals a connection between hearing loss and overall health in older adults.
Senior citizens with hearing or vision loss frequently struggle more with cognitive decline, depression, and communication troubles. That’s something you might already have read about. But one thing you may not be aware of is that life expectancy can also be affected by hearing loss.
This research suggests that people with neglected hearing loss might enjoy “fewer years of life”. And, the possibility that they will have a hard time undertaking tasks needed for daily life nearly doubles if the individual has both hearing and vision impairment. It’s both a physical issue and a quality of life problem.
This may sound bad but there’s a positive: several ways that hearing loss can be managed. Even more significantly, getting tested can help expose major health problems and spark you to take better care of yourself, which will increase your life expectancy.
Why is Poor Health Connected With Hearing Loss?
Research definitely shows a link but the accurate cause and effect isn’t well known.
Researchers at Johns Hopkins note that other problems such as increased risk of stroke and heart disease were seen in older people who had hearing loss.
These results make sense when you understand more about the causes of hearing loss. Countless instances of tinnitus and hearing loss are tied to heart disease since the blood vessels in the ear canal are impacted by high blood pressure. When you have shrunken blood vessels – which can be due to smoking – the body’s blood has to work harder to keep the ears (and everything else) working which brings about higher blood pressure. Older adults with heart troubles and hearing loss often experience a whooshing sound 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 believe there are several reasons why the two are linked: for one, the brain needs to work harder to distinguish words in a conversation, which saps out the brain’s capacity to do anything else. In other cases, many people with hearing loss tend to be less social, commonly as a result of the difficulty they have communicating. There can be a severe impact on a person’s mental health from social separation resulting in depression and anxiety.
How Older Adults Can Manage Hearing Loss
There are a few options available to manage hearing loss in older adults, but as is shown by research, it’s best to tackle these concerns early before they affect your overall health.
Hearing aids are one kind of treatment that can be very effective in fighting your hearing loss. There are numerous different styles of hearing aids available, including small, subtle models that connect with Bluetooth technology. Also, basic quality of life has been improving because of hearing aid technology. For instance, they filter out background sound a lot better than older versions and can be connected to computers, cell phones, and TV’s to allow for better hearing during the entertainment.
Older adults can also visit a nutritionist or contact their doctor about changes to their diet to help stop further hearing loss. There are connections between iron deficiency anemia and hearing loss, for instance, which can often be treated by increasing the iron content in your diet. An improved diet can help your other medical conditions and help you have better total health.