Senior Citizen's Guide digital books
Senior Citizen's Guide to Chicago
The Medical Consumer:
Keeping Your Loved One Connected

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, one in three people older than 60 and half of those older than 85 have hearing loss. And while loss of hearing can be considered a normal part of aging, it can isolate your loved one. Hearing problems can make it hard to understand and follow a doctor's advice, to respond to safety warnings, and to hear doorbells and alarms.

There are many tell-tale signs of hearing loss. Your loved one has a problem hearing on the telephone, is uncharacteristically silent in social situations, or sometimes responds inappropriately in conversation. If untreated, hearing loss can even lead to depression and withdrawal.

There are several types of hearing loss associated with aging. Gradual hearing loss is called presbycusis. Presbycusis loss is most prominent at high frequencies, although a decrease in hearing across all frequencies sometimes occurs. Equally important, presbycusis can make it difficult for a person to distinguish among different speech sounds.

Another form of hearing loss that seniors experience is tinnitus, or a ringing in the ears. It's often found in those who have worked in noisy environments for extended periods.

Getting the Message Through

If your loved one seems to have difficulty hearing, a visit to an otolaryngologist (an ear, nose, and throat specialist) is in order. Together with an audiologist, they can test your loved one's hearing and determine what sort of treatment would work best. There are many devices that compensate for lost hearing:

Make the Connection

A senior who suffers from hearing loss has to focus hard to talk to family and friends. If your loved one has hearing loss, you can help by taking the following precautions:

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